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Environmentalist Helps Children Learn By Doing

Oct. 14, 2004 – Lisa Forde, assistant principal of Lockhart Elementary School on St. Thomas, on Tuesday praised the efforts being made by Donna Griffin, environmental specialist from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources' Division of Fish and Wildlife, for her ongoing educational presentations on Virgin Islands animals and marine life.
"By teaching students about the damage caused by marine debris and trash from the animal's perspective, students are able to understand that trash and pollution are not just unsightly, but are life-threatening for many marine species commonly found in the waters around our island," Griffin said in a release.
"The department is trying to make students aware of their environment at an early age. By making these presentations, we help children become aware of how their actions impact the world around them, while also introducing them to the wide array of environmental and marine career opportunities that exist here in the Virgin islands," she said.
The presentation is the first step in the educational process. After students learn about the sensitive balance between man, the environment and our animals, then students take a beach field trip where they participate in a beach cleanup.
"While at the beach, students collect beach debris, separate it into what categories were found and then indicate how much they found," she said.
Data collected from these field trips is sent to the international group the Ocean Conservancy that monitors environmental issues and is part of the International MARPOL Treaty. As part of the United States, which is one of the signatory countries to this treaty, the Virgin Islands pays close attention to marine pollution issues and provides data reflective of the current environmental status.
"While the amount of trash on our beaches appears to be lessening over the years we have been doing this, students are still surprised at the volume they collect during their cleanup," Griffin said. "Hopefully, the fact that our findings are becoming smaller is a good indication that visitors to our beaches are making a sincere effort to survey the area for any trash before they head home."

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