In September, people around the world took to the shorelines for International Coastal Cleanup Day. Boy Scout Troop 912 from Tavernier and families from Ocean Studies Charter School (OSCS) joined the global movement by cleaning up Harry Harris Park and Beach. They picked up over 316 pounds of trash in the joint effort, the majority being plastic, fishing rope and wood.

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Micah Carr, 12, from Troop 912 stands with tons of rope he pulled out. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

“It feels good to know I’m helping the animals and the people so that the next generation gets to see the same things I do,” said Micah Carr, 12, a Boy Scout from Troop 912. As he hauled tangled fishing rope out of the mangroves, Carr exclaimed, “It’s really heavy! I can’t believe how much there is.” He continued, explaining why it matters for his generation to take part in events like the cleanup that help the planet and its animals. “Like rhinos: people won’t get to see them because of poachers. I think that’s awful. I want our oceans to be clean for the future.”

Similarly, Nathan Rodgers, 6, from OSCS, had the animals in mind when he was picking up plastic bottles with his dad Charlie. “I want to clean the beach because the birds and fish will eat it,” said an eager Nathan. “We’re not done yet, Nathan. We got a long way to go,” chimed in his dad.

Although they’re still kids, Carr and Rodgers both recognized the need to take part in the global fight against ocean and shoreline pollution. This is partly because they are surrounded by adults (parents, teachers and scout leaders) who recognize the importance of connecting the Keys to what’s going on environmentally in the world. More importantly, these adults empower their kids to realize they can be part of the solution to these large global problems.

Sarah Naylor, who took her kids Levi, 9, and Lola, 6, to the cleanup collaboration, loved that the event complemented what her kids learn in school at OSCS. She said, “I took the kids out here to help clean up our local area and to connect the global problem to our local one.”

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Devyn Nason, 16, and mom Cynthia Martin, a scoutmaster for Troop 912, stand with the piles of trash that the scouts and OSCS families picked up. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Another OSCS parent, Geoff Rudolph, agreed. “We’re here because it’s an international beach cleanup day,” said Rudolph. Looking at his kids Ellie and Alex, both 9, Rudolph emphasized, “This is what they’re learning in school, and it’s important to put it into practice.”

Ariel Poholek, one of the scoutmasters for Troop 912, agreed. It’s part of the reason he helped plan the event. “Our kids need to do this, too, so they learn how to take a stand for what they love,” said Poholek, who hopes to organize future cleanups and environmental events for kids around the community to get more involved.

Watching the trash pile up as scouts, students and parents brought it in for final tallies, Poholek noticed a flash of white in the corner of his eye. “Ibis! Oh wow, you don’t usually see a flock of ibis so big,” he comments. “It’s like they know what we’re out here doing today, and they’re saying ‘Thank you.’”

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Troop 912 and parents and kids from Ocean Studies Charter School helped clean up Harry Harris Park. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

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