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Lessons learned at the Texas 'Adopt-a-Beach' program


Photo by Allen Schlimper

Having to tell a six and seven year old that they have to wake up early the next day to pick up trash was something we thought would not go over well. After all, how many kids their age really enjoy doing their chores or picking up anything? Add to that the agony of waking up extra early on a Saturday morning, you would think that you would end up with grouchy children and a very long day for the parent.

Well, not today, this morning, having hopped out of bed and waking up dad, the children exclaimed that they 'were ready to go.'  They said goodbye to mom and their slightly sick little sister, armed themselves with their caps and closed toed shoes, and headed off with dad for an hour ride to Malaquite Beach on the Padre Island National Seashore.  There they met up with several hundred other volunteers made up of boys scouts, cub scouts, groups that came in buses from San Antonio, students from Northshore Indpendent School District, some from Corpus Christi Independent School District, and other citizens of Texas looking to lend a hand.  They were there for the Texas 'Adopt-a-Beach' Program which runs every Spring and Fall.

Photo by Allen Schlimper

Our children, Paul and Clara, and my husband, Allen, joined thousands of other Texans who headed to the gulf at various sites across the state to clean up our beaches. Upon arrival at the beach, the National Park Service issued them each a supply bag of  a water container for keeping hydrated, plastic gloves, trash bags, and 'caution' tape used to flag items on the beach that were considered biohazardous materials and dangerous. With their sunscreen and supplies in hand, they scoured Malaquite Beach and spent over two and a half hours picking up trash that was either thrown or washed up there. Three large garbage bags later, a little hot, and slightly wet (they're children afterall), I found they had so much to tell me about their volunteer trip to Malaquite Beach

Among the items they found, were:

Photo by Allen Schlimper
  • Plastic caps and rings from soda and water bottles
  • Miscellaneous broken plastic pieces of various items
  • Wood planks, many with nails on them
  • Curling ribbon (the kind on balloons or gifts)
  • Fishing lures
  • A very large amount of cigarette butts
  • All kinds of rope
  • Plastic Bags

Unusual items they found, were:

  •  A car bumper
  • A small light bulb

Among the dangerous and scary items found, were:

  • Several syringes

At the end of their clean up efforts and ready for a break, the children enjoyed hot dogs, chips, cookies, and drinks provided by the National Park Service and they came home feeling satisfied and happy.

When I asked them what they learned, they replied:

'We learned that littering is very bad and you should never do it because it hurts our environment. We learned that trash thrown in our rivers, lakes, and oceans ends up on our beaches in the gulf. We learned that marine animals like turtles can get killed or hurt with these plastic rings and trash we found. We learned that it was good to help the environment.'

When I asked them how they felt about what they did today:

They smiled and said 'really good' and 'great'.

As homeschoolers, we felt the lessons they learned were incredibly valuable. As parents, we are very proud of them. As citizens, we felt it to be a necessary act for our community and the health of our environment. Even though it is still too early to tell how much trash was picked up today by all the volunteers, it's not too late to get your homeschooler or child involved. The 2010 Spring clean up will be happening on April 24rth throughout Corpus Christi and along the gulf of Texas, visit the Texas General Land Office for more information and to get your family registered.