Anchorage students clear marine debris from PWS beach

Students from Dimond High School in Anchorage came to Prince William Sound on a field trip, which included two hours spent clearing a beach of 122 pounds of plastic debris. Photo courtesy of Catherine Walker, Anchorage School District

Forty-two students from Anchorage’s Dimond High School on a recent environmental field trip cleaned up 122 pounds of marine debris from a Prince William Sound beach, including Styrofoam blocks water bottles, oil cans and buckets.

The event on a sunny spring day in April was organized by Catherine Walker, a science teacher at DHS, through grant funds from the NOAA Ocean Guardian program.  As part of the experience, Walker had Patrick Simpson, managing member of Alaska Plastic Recovery, speak in advance in her classroom about the origins transport and distribution of marine debris along Alaska’s coast.

“It was amazing how much marine debris, mostly plastic, that we found on the beach,” Walker said. CT 05-20 pandemic update

“From the shore there did not seem to be much debris at all, but once we walked above the high water line, we found plastics everywhere.  Empowering students from diverse backgrounds to make a difference in their communities and having local businesses join us and share their knowledge and expertise brings a whole new level to our curriculum,” she said, “We hope to provide more experiences like this to our students in the future as we help to create the next generation of planetary stewards.”

Walker is a National Geographic Certified Educator who has taught at Dimond High since 2017.

She is a sponsor for Dimond’s National Ocean Science Bowl club.

Alaska Plastics Recovery, through their parent company PKS Consulting, is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a mobile plastic waste recycling system that converts waste plastic into recycled plastic lumber.