Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary School in Cutler Bay hosted its ninth annual World Wetlands Day Cleanup on Saturday, Feb. 1, from 9 a.m. to noon. More than 100 volunteers — comprised of students, parents, and faculty — participated in the effort.
There was some light occasional rain but most of the time the weather was dry. The event was also competing with Super Bowl Events being hosted all over Miami, so the turnout was considered good.
“We collected over 335 pounds of trash from the rocks and mangrove trees on the jetty,” said Adrian Delesdernier, education specialist at Whigham. “Fourth Grade student Andres Garcia wanted to participate but he had to go out of town so he collected an additional 40 pounds of trash on Marathon Key in honor of the event. Our nine-year total is over 5,000 pounds of trash collected.”
Trash included glass and plastic bottles, plastic bags, and hundreds of feet of monofilament fishing line. Volunteers needed scissors to remove fishing line lodged all along the rocks of the jetty, which is part Miami Dade County Parks and part Biscayne National Park property.
“This year we collaborated with Biscayne National Park,” Delesdernier said. “Representing Biscayne National Park were VIP (Volunteer in Park) Mike Craig and from Greening Youth, Brian Brodhead. They brought artifacts from the park to share with students. Julie Heyde, a parent from Whigham, represented Miami Seaquarium with a display table for students. Some students observed a manatee in the channel.”
World Wetlands Day occurs annually on Feb. 2, marking the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971 when a small group of environmentalists signed an international agreement at the Ramsar Convention in Iran.
The students agreed it was worth the effort and found it enlightening.
“We got to see how much trash people throw on the ground and how much that weight can be,” said fifth grader Jade Thomas. “I can’t believe everything we picked up that day. I even found a shoe.”
Cecilia Cabilla, a third grader, had a similar response.
“I picked up trash with my mom,
she said. “I had fun picking up trash with my friends also. I found a crab leg. It’s nice picking up trash and feeling like we are saving the world.”
Another third grader, Mariana Rincon, also enjoyed the experience.
““It felt good picking up trash because that’s how you save the environment,” she said. “It’s important to save the environment for the animals. It was fun and the right thing to do.”