Troop 912 went kayaking at Indian Key. Along with their normal scouting activities, they also cleaned up the environment. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed

Scoutmaster Ari Poholek knows that it’s important for younger generations to understand that they can be the solution to the plastic pollution problem. The scouts recently participated in two coastal cleanups. An area state parks cleanup of Lignumvitae Key resulted in over 1 ton of trash removed. While cleaning up Indian Key, the scouts rescued a cormorant with severe wing and leg injuries that prevented it from flying or swimming. They took the bird to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center where it was eventually euthanized due to its severe injuries. 

Executive Director Jordan Budnik could not confirm whether the cormorant’s condition was directly related to the debris on Indian Key, but she did note that native wildlife in the Keys fights an “uphill battle against debris” in the water and along the shorelines. “Whether we see animals entangled in fishing line and hooks, or ingesting litter, pollution is a tragedy that plays itself out over and over again in our ecosystems,” she said. Budnik encouraged wide participation in coastal cleanups to protect wildlife from “inhumane fates” and to preserve the environment for the future.

Park rangers pose with all the trash collected from Lignumvitae Key. CONTRIBUTED
Troop 912 Scoutmaster Ari Poholek and his son Pascal Weisberger enjoy cleaning up the environment. The troop regularly volunteers with area clean-ups. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Boy Scout Pascal Weisberger holds up marine debris pulled from the sea and mangroves during a January cleanup at Lignumvitae Key. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Boy Scout Pascal Weisberger holds up marine debris pulled from the sea and mangroves during a January cleanup at Lignumvitae Key. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Volunteers, park rangers, Boy Scouts from Troop 912, and members of the Conch Republic Marine Army gather with all the trash they collected from Lignumvitae Key. CONTRIBUTED
Troop 912 did a clean-up at Indian Key. Scout Jordan Lubis emerges from the mangroves with old fishing line he untangled from the roots. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Trash collected from Indian Key included a lot of lost traps and trap lines. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Trash collected from Indian Key included a lot of lost traps and trap lines. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Troop 912 went kayaking at Indian Key. Along with their normal scouting activities, they also cleaned up the environment. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Troop 912 went kayaking at Indian Key. Along with their normal scouting activities, they also cleaned up the environment. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Troop 912 scouts found an injured cormorant at Indian Key and brought the animal to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center in Tavernier. ARI POHOLEK/Contributed
Park rangers pose with all the trash collected from Lignumvitae Key. CONTRIBUTED

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