Members of Jesuit High School's Environmental Club met up bright and early on Saturday April 27 for a major cleanup effort at McKay Bay Nature Park.
Vincent Girgenti '20, Joey Aschenbrenner '21, Dawson Jessee '21, Daniel Marrero '20, Drew Carson '21, and club moderator Vindri Gajadhar represented Jesuit at the Great American Cleanup, sponsored by Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.
For several hours, they picked up litter and debris in the park and surrounding mangroves, making their way across the unstable ground and vegetation to collect trash caught in the trees' roots. All totaled, the group managed to collect six full bags of trash and three boxes of broken glass.
Cleanups like this one, that reduce waste in mangrove forests and salt-marshes, are especially impactful on the environment. Mangroves help prevent coastal erosion and serve as important hubs for biodiversity. They are threatened by marine debris that can easily clog and destroy their root systems, and can change the chemical composition of surrounding sediments. Efforts to keep these areas clean are a major boon for the health of our local ecosystems.
The Great American Cleanup is one of two major events organized by Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, the other being the International Coastal Cleanup in the fall. Jesuit students and parents interested in participating in environmental community service projects can contact Gajadhar at firstname.lastname@example.org. Everyone is welcome to join the club for clean-up events, not just Environmental Club members.
"There's always a great atmosphere of friendship and cooperation at these clean-up events," said Gajadhar. "Many hands make light work, and make our communities more beautiful places to live."
See below for a photo slideshow from the April 27 cleanup at McKay Bay Nature Park: