Rollins Steps Up to Clean Up: International Coastal Cleanup Day 2009

September 23, 2009

International Coastal Clean Up 2009

On September 19, a group of nearly 70 Rollins participants took part in Rollins’ 4th Annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, coordinated by the Office of Community Engagement and Rollins’ biology department. The event has been running for 26 years and represents the effort by hundreds of thousands of worldwide volunteers, in partnership with the Ocean Conservancy, to clean man-made litter from local beaches.

Early in the morning, sleepy yet eager students, faculty, and staff boarded buses provided by the College. Upon its arrival at Cocoa Beach’s Fischer Park, the group began walking up and down the beach, picking up garbage as they went.

Assistant Professors of Biology Fiona Harper and Katie Sutherland, two professors specializing in marine biology on campus, have involved Rollins in the International Coastal Cleanup Day since 2006. This year, Harper’s “Exploring Marine Biology” RCC class, as well as students from her “Invertebrate Zoology” class, contributed to the efforts to clean Fischer Park.

“Many students go to the beach to enjoy the beautiful water and surroundings; unfortunately, human activities threaten the health of our beaches – in particular pollution in the form of plastic,” said Harper. “Small pieces of plastic can be ingested by marine life, causing them to choke, block their intestine, and die. I'm hoping some of our students, having spent time cleaning this particular beach, will feel empowered to say something to a fellow student if they see them littering in the future.”

Several Chinese exchange students from the Rollins Learn and Earn program also participated in the cleanup this year.

“I cherished this significant opportunity to do something for the community and the environment,” Longyu Zhou said. “It was also a good chance for us to have fun together! I would like to do more community service jobs with Rollins in the future.” 

Fellow student Yibing Chen added, “I had the chance to do something to protect the environment and work as a world citizen. Even trivial things can help protect the environment.”

Hours later, when the buses returned to campus, there was significantly less trash at Cocoa Beach and more hope for marine life in the area. 

--Kristin Schendel (Class of 2010 )

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