To achieve sustainable behavior change at the pilot high schools, our project team focused on three broad areas: Training high school teachers and student delegates, supporting students in development and implementation of their Community-Based Social Marketing campaign, including a targeted social media plan, and greatly expanding participation in community cleanups located throughout Prince William County, Virginia. For their efforts, students in the project were awarded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Region 3 President’s Environmental youth Award (PEYA).
shows that authentic experiences enhance marine debris connections, helping to bridge the gap in understanding how litter effects our environment. Students from Patriot and Freedom high schools were invited by science teachers, teacher participants, and through the school’s environmental clubs to participate in the Marine Debris grant program. Teachers and student delegates were invited to join a canvas course which hosted the training and discussion boards to learn more about the issue and share ideas.
After learning about the issues, students participated in field experiences and/or led various action projects, including:
- Joining litter studies at the watershed storm water retention basins at the schools, participating in Adopt-A-Spot clean ups, water quality testing, site surveys, and litter characterization
- Joining GMU grad students at a local stream for anadromous fish sampling where they learned how to characterize stream flow, topography, chemical measures, and take samples
- Learning how to survey water samples taken from streams that were historic hosts for various anadromous fish to identify eggs and larvae
- Creating social media posts to encourage peers to reduce their use of single use plastics
- Hosting a booth at a large community outreach event where they shared single use plastic data and provided metal water bottles to those who signed a pledge, and
- Holding water bottle giveaway and pledge events at lunches, at sports team practices, and a local community parade.