The NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) supports projects across the country that use outreach and education as a way to prevent marine debris. These projects in the Northeast change behavior using peer education. Students reach other students as well as teachers with hands-on experiences and targeted lessons that deepen their understanding of the marine debris problem and their role in the solution.
In Massachusetts, the Salem Sound Coastwatch partnered with NOAA MDP to focus on urban neighborhoods in Salem to raise awareness and change local trash disposal behaviors. Teens participate in an intensive six-month-long service-learning program on marine debris. During the project, the teens learn about various elements of marine debris, collect data in five neighborhoods to determine quantity, sources, and types of street trash and identify and target three neighborhoods for behavior changing interventions. The teens develop strategies that are neighborhood and community appropriate.
And in Connecticut, the Mystic Aquarium joined forces with NOAA MDP to train enthusiastic teens to become environmental stewards who then go on to educate and inspire other teens. Fifteen high-school students from Sea Research Foundation’s Mystic Aquarium Youth Conservation Corps and Maritime Aquarium collaborated throughout summer 2014 to motivate the public to take action and raise awareness about the global marine debris problem. The teens designed a variety of outreach activities including a focus on consumer products like single use items and cosmetic products that contain microbeads, a type of microplastic, to help the public reduce their daily marine debris impact.
For more NOAA MDP efforts in the Northeast, visit: http://marinedebris.noaa.gov/northeast