Ship Island Excursion South Mississippi Education and Waste Reduction
Ship Island Excursions and the NOAA Marine Debris Program teamed up to provide marine debris education and outreach to coastal Mississippi students as well as passengers on the Ship Island ferry.
Type of Project: Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant
Region: Gulf of Mexico
Project Dates: September 2016 - October 2017
Who is involved?
Ship Island Excursions, with the support of a NOAA Marine Debris Program Marine Debris Prevention through Education and Outreach Grant, and in partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL), provided education and outreach to students and passengers on the Ship Island ferry through an interactive kiosk, signage, and marine educators and student ambassadors.
What is the project and why is it important?
Like most coastal areas, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is affected by marine debris, with much of this debris originating locally. To further the awareness of local marine debris issues, particularly plastic debris, and how marine debris may impact the Gulf Coast environment, Ship Island Excursions worked to educate local students, teachers, and community members. Students and teachers from the three coastal counties of Mississippi (Jackson, Harrison, and Hancock) were targeted for educational programs, with a primary focus on underrepresented and underserved schools within these counties. These programs include professional development for teachers which highlights marine debris-related curriculum, classroom instruction for students, and field trips to participate in marine debris removal activities on West Ship Island. In addition to outreach to local schools, Ship Island Excursions and the GCRL educated passengers aboard Ship Island Excursion’s ferry boats. Passengers learn about marine debris at the harbor via an interactive kiosk, on the ferry via GCRL marine educators and high school student ambassadors, and on West Ship Island via signage.
What were the project results?
Thirty groups of students from 23 schools (a total of 2,036 students in all), were engaged in marine debris lessons from GCRL marine educators and high school student ambassadors, and through hands-on beach cleanups on West Ship Island. One hundred and sixty teachers and chaperones volunteered to work with the students to complete the lessons and cleanups. Students successfully surveyed three debris sites on West Ship Island and removed a total of 60,241 individual items of debris.
In addition, students posted informational signage at the ferry boat launch offering visitors a chance to learn more about marine debris. Park visitors, 45,128 in all, were educated about marine debris and proper waste disposal practices while they rode the ferry out to the island.