by Hazel Stark
When the weather becomes warmer and the ice melts from hiking trails, we find that schools start itching to get their students moving outdoors. When Beals Elementary School principal Chris Crowley reached out to us this spring asking for a hiking-focused field trip for his 5th-8th graders, we thought we could incorporate a service project at the same time. The Great Wass Island Preserve, managed by The Nature Conservancy, has a beautiful shoreline that, unfortunately, becomes strewn with trash that washes in from the ocean (primarily bleach and beverage bottles and fishing gear). Given that this preserve is located quite close to Beals Elementary School, it provided an ideal place to get moving outdoors and make it cleaner for the next time people hike there.
Students worked together to collect, bag, and compile trash into a few discrete locations along the shore for later boat pickup. There was so much there that they actually ran out of time (and bags), so the MOS team (Hazel and Joe) returned later to finish bagging up the last of the trash and make two more caches for later pickup.
Then, with the support of several volunteers, including Donna Kausen and Kelton Beal with their boats and The Nature Conservancy staff with a big pickup truck, we collected the five piles of trash and got it to the transfer station in three overflowing pickup truckloads.
This project was a great example of a community-building, collaborative, outdoor learning opportunity that left one of our loveliest local preserves even lovelier. Thanks so much to Beals Elementary School, the local volunteers, and The Nature Conservancy for your collaboration on this project!