USF Empowers a Community to Prevent Marine Debris
Current Collections, A Community's Coastal Debris Sculpture.
Current Collections, A Community's Coastal Debris Sculpture
The University of South Florida College of Marine Science and the NOAA Marine Debris Program partner to engages youth, locals, and tourists by targeting shoreline and beach litter in Florida.

What is the project?
The Clean Community-Clean Coast: Empowering Youth, Teachers and Volunteers to Prevent Marine Debris (4Cs) project brings together community beach cleanup efforts, environmental awareness forums, and afterschool Science Technology Engineering Math and art programs to help change behaviors that contribute to the marine debris problem. 4Cs engages youth, locals, and tourists by targeting shoreline and beach litter at sites in St. Petersburg, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia where debris easily enters storm drains and discharges into waterways.

4Cs takes a grassroots, cross disciplinary approach to raising awareness and encouraging behavior change. By conducting focus groups and holding community forums with both students and key stakeholders, they will define the community’s socio-cultural norms and attitudes, develop an educational program, use those local channels to spread the word, and increase the understanding of the relationship between the problems of marine debris (i.e. sources, impacts on nature, tourism) and their own daily behavior. Additionally, 4Cs solicited debris collection and art creation help from the community, sparking local and wide-spread interest around ’ Current Collections’, a 40-foot sculpture that rises 31 feet into the air.

What does it accomplish?
4Cs focuses on a targeted and effective campaign to spread the message about marine debris and involving the community in prevention efforts. The project sparks public awareness through a large-scale art installation, hosting workshops, forums, and focus groups, developing formal and informal educational materials for coastal or inland communities, and providing communications training and online social-media tools to teens and volunteer leaders.

Who is involved?
The NOAA Marine Debris Program-funded grant collaborators include: the University of South Florida (USF) College of Marine Science , the Georgia State University Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design (with faculty and students operating under the Embodied Energy Studio LLC), the USF St. Petersburg College of Education, USF College of Behavior and Community Sciences, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Tampa Bay Watch and in-kind support is provided by the St. Petersburg Science Festival and the City of St. Petersburg Parks and Recreation Department. The project has sparked so much interest in the community that the list of partners offering in-kind support continues to grow.

What is something unique about the project?
The sculpture, Current Collections, was the focal point of the Fourth Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival, held in October 2014, and seen by more than 25,000 people. It invited onlookers to ask questions, teaching through engagement and inquiry. By using reclaimed and recycled coastal debris Current Collections reflects the movement of trash in our world. It will travel to the 2015 Earth Day in Atlanta and return to the St. Petersburg Science Festival in 2015, remaining on display through 2016.

You can find more information at, http://www.seatheunseen.com, a blog documenting the community engagement and the sculpture’s journey.