Bear Lake students participate in beach clean-up

BEAR LAKE — When it comes to protecting the environment a lot of people talk the talk, but they don’t always always walk the walk.

Due to erosion along the shoreline in several areas the Bear Lake students to walk around some obstacles to remain on the beach for their trash collection project.

 

The science students at Bear Lake Schools who are in John Prokes’ classes constantly “talk the talk” in the classroom about what steps can be taken to protect the Earth. However, 32 of those students recently showed they can also “walk the walk” when they cleaned up 30 miles of beach at the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“We did this last year and because it was so popular the students mobilized to do it again this year,” said Prokes. “It was in the news recently where someone had dumped a bunch of glass on the shoreline near Sleeping Bear. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the beach where the glass was dumped, but we plan on volunteering for that clean-up as well.”

Prokes said the clean-up is always a “seeing is believing” type of experience for the students. Student Mariah McLouth said it really made her stop and think about the importance of protecting the environment.

“The beach clean-up was eye opening and it made me realize what people take for granted,” said McLouth. “Along an area a little under three miles we filled two 13-gallon bags full of trash. Some of our findings were pieces of plastic decking, alcoholic beverage containers, rope, fishing lures and an excessive amount of straws and bottle caps.”

Fellow student Zoey Sutton said it really hit home for her when all the students returned to the Bear Lake School gymnasium with all the trash.

“It’s horrible to see how much we have polluted the planet we live on,” said Sutton. “When I saw all the bags set out in the gym I was so surprised because there was so

Due to erosion along the shoreline in several areas the Bear Lake students to walk around some obstacles to remain on the beach for their trash collection project.

much trash, it was just crazy.”

Heloise DeBourse said that on a worldwide scale she knew what they they did didn’t make a major impact on the environment, but every little bit helps.

“Even if us collecting garbage didn’t have that big of an impact, it is still what we could do and I hope that it inspires other people and that it becomes a movement across the world,” she said.

Tai Babinec pointed out that what many people don’t realize is the impact it plays on the ecosystem.

“People don’t understand what doing stuff like this does to the animals and the environment in general,” said Babinec. “We use the beach as a way to relax and swim, but no one wants to see trash when they go.”

Quentin Ruiz agreed that what the Bear Lake students did with the clean-up could make it safer for animals.

“It meant a lot to me to pick up the plastic,” said Ruiz. “I felt like I was helping the world out because maybe the piece I picked up might have save a bird’s life.”

Students pose with some of the bags of trash they collected off the beach by Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore.

Many of the students, like Leah Nelson, said they wish the public could see the amount of trash that they collected off the beach.

“It made me realize people need to change,” said Nelson. “Humans are so careless and selfish, which we can prove from all the pounds of trash we collected. The beach walk definitely changed me as it makes me think twice before throwing away something that can be recycled.”

Student Keera Groenwald said what caught her attention was the little pieces of plastic that can be so harmful to wildlife.

“There were just hundreds of pieces of mico plastics,” said Groenwald. “I honestly am disgusted with myself on how much plastic I do use. These walks have inspired me to watch my plastic use and what I drink, eat and use in my life.”

Megan Gydesen said sometimes people take things for granted.

“The movie ‘Plastic Ocean’ reminded me that we have the privilege of free air, a clean back yard and acres upon acres of forest,” she said. “It reminds me that something that should be a given, a right, is now a privilege, which is insane.”

Prokes said the purpose of the clean-up really brings home to the students the need to protect the environment. It also adds a dimension he can’t give in the classroom as seeing the trash with their own eyes makes them understand better.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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