It may not feel like there is a beach located in the same city that produces such brutal winters, but Presque Isle State Park, located just 15 minutes away from campus, is very much a tourist attraction during the summer months.
Unfortunately, with the large amount of tourists comes a large amount of debris, which is why biology Professor David Hyland, Ph. D., and Assistant Director of Student Financial Services Renee Wright became active members of the Adopt-A-Beach initiative to clean Presque Isle.
Adopt-A-Beach is an Alliance for the Great Lakes volunteer initiative that is spread throughout the Great Lakes shorelines in eight states.
The group has over 10,000 participants, each involved in monthly clean-ups on the shoreline of their choice. Presque Isle volunteers meet at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center on the first Saturday morning of the month for most of the year.
The Adopt-A-Beach volunteers look further into the trash problem; they separate and recycle the debris that is recyclable and assess the weight, amount, and types of debris left on the shoreline.
Doing so “provides a greater understanding of how the beaches are used, where and how many cigarette and trash receptacles ought to be placed” in order for the most effective use, Hyland said.
They also measure various weather conditions and keep track of the organisms that call Presque Isle their home.
With all of the intensive work put into the Adopt-A-Beach effort, volunteers are always welcome.
Many biology courses are offering service hours for volunteering, as is the Office of Service Learning.
It is easy to get involved; the volunteering occurs at a state park, so registration is done through the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
It is a simple process to undergo and reaps direct benefits to both the volunteers and the Erie community as well.
This initiative helps Presque Isle to evaluate the cleanliness of the shorelines and ensure the area is clean and safe, both for tourists and wildlife alike.
Mercyhurst volunteers gathered one-third of the total 18,000 trash pieces collected from last year’s Adopt-A-Beach outings.
The outings are scheduled for Saturdays during the Summer and early Fall (April 5, May 3, June 7, July 5, Aug. 2, Sept. 6 and Oct. 4) at 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day.
Those who are intrigued and would like to get involved should contact either David Hyland, Ph. D., or Renee Wright. You may contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.
For more information on this initiative, please visit www.greatlakes.org/adoptabeach and to register as a volunteer, visit www.volunteers.dcnr.pa.us.