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Cleaning up the Great Lakes

by Jamie C.

Students at Von Steuben High School painted a 15-foot mural depicting their experiences at Foster Beach in Chicago. The mural is a daily reminder of more than six years of monthly stewardship and seasonal adventures.

“I like knowing that the trash we help to remove from the beach makes things better,” says a teacher, who has headed the Von Steuben High School Environmental Action Club in adopting and caring for Foster Beach. “I like being outside with my students once a month; seeing them outside the classroom,” she says. “It builds good relationships and encourages them to be proactive members of society.”

Another teacher's middle school students at Cesar Chavez Upper Grade Center in Chicago, Ill. have penned letters to the editor at the Chicago Tribune about their experiences. “I can't believe how often I see grown men and women throw cigarette butts out their car windows without even a care that they are polluting,” wrote 13-year-old student Cynthia Sepulveda. “Sometimes it's even a grown-up in a suit looking all sophisticated, but there they are, throwing down a cigarette butt on the Earth.”

Youth who participate in the Alliance for the Great Lakes’ Adopt-a-Beach™ program find themselves engaging in their communities and connecting to the real world in a meaningful way. Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach™ program is a volunteer-driven and largely volunteer-run organization that involves nearly 7,000 participants on four Great Lakes. Volunteers organize the cleanups, round up their neighbors, classmates and business colleagues, and call them out on hot summer afternoons and frigid winter mornings to go about the often dirty work of keeping the Great Lakes clean. To find out more about more contact: adoptabeach@greatlakes.org

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