Flagler County, FL – Whether they’re growing coral, collaborating on a sea oats project or picking up litter during a beach cleanup, students in Andrew Medearis’ marine and environmental science classes are considering how to make an impact in Flagler County that will last forever.
Presenting their latest completed project as part of the “Forever Flagler” Environmental Science Community Outreach and Education Project, residents and visitors to communities across Flagler County will benefit from the newly constructed monofilament line collectors as they spend time in the outdoors.
After receiving a teacher innovation grant from the Flagler County Education Foundation, supported by Beaver Toyota and DG Ace Hardware in Bunnell, students in the i3 Academy and 4H programs set to work assembling 24 of the collectors for distribution across Flagler County.
Several of the students involved with the project said that as fishermen themselves, they expect to see an immediate impact as anglers dispose of used fishing hooks and line in the collectors.
“We all fish and we don’t like seeing spots where there’s line all over the ground,” said Flagler Palm Coast High School senior Jacob Campbell, one of the project’s early leaders during the 2019-20 school year.
“I think this is great because we have a lot of people here who do take part in outdoor activities such as fishing and it’s always good to have the mindset of leaving a place better than how you found it,” he said.
New to the team, sophomore Brendan Aldridge has been working on assembly since last fall. He says there’s a timeline for team’s efforts and hope municipalities will respond quickly.
“We plan to have all of them out by March 2021,” he said.
Flagler Beach mayor Linda Provencher and Tom Gillin, recreation director for the City of Flagler Beach were on hand to receive the six units for installation and corresponding informational signage designed by FPC senior Alexis Kittrell, on Saturday during the monthly beach cleanup.
“They’ll be going out on the pier and other places where they fish so the fishing lines can go out there instead of in the ocean or waterways,” said Provencher, a champion of litter removal, with appreciation.
Gillin said the collector on the pier is emptied often during the busy season and is strategizing with Provencher on placement, which Medearis said is best left up to the municipalities.
“In terms of placement, it’s where the cities and county see need, and the only thing that we’re asking for is for them to take a picture of it and give us a GPS so that we can make sure that it’s logged on Fish and Wildlife’s (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission) website,” said Medearis.
“There’s an actual website, an MMRP (Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program), where fishermen like Jacob when they are fishing if there’s line that breaks off, instead of throwing it in the water, they can look on the website and where the closest one is to them and drop it into the collector itself,” he explained.
Addressing several of the MMRP’s goals by creating awareness about the negative impacts of fishing line debris on human welfare, marine life and water quality, along with preserving the natural environment, Medearis sees the students involved setting an example for their peers, something junior Gracie Frassrand agrees with.
“I think it’s important to get in the habit of telling and showing people how important the environment is because it is vital,” said Frassrand. “I feel it’s good to have a younger generation that’s actually going to have hopefully a better appreciation than other generations.”