In an effort to combat the impact plastic pollution has on the environment, Suffolk County has partnered with New York Sea Grant (NYSG) to publish a 15-lesson curriculum entitled, “Plastic Pollution and You.” The curriculum was developed after the passage of Suffolk County resolution 450-2018, sponsored by Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker, which authorized the creation of a marine debris public awareness program. NYSG’s Kathleen Fallon, Ph.D., a Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist and Nate Drag, New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Literacy Specialist and Associate Director of the Great Lakes Program at the University at Buffalo, have co-authored the curriculum. Funding for the curriculum was administered by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation through the New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
“In Suffolk County, we have prioritized environmental protection through actions such as banning single-use plastic bags, personal care products with microbeads, and the release of helium balloons,” said Legislator Anker. “While legislation is an important part of environmental protection, we must also focus on educating our future generations about what they can do to reduce the negative impacts plastics can have on our water and marine life. Having sponsored the Suffolk County resolution to create the marine debris curriculum, I would like to thank New York Sea Grant, Dr. Kathleen Fallon and Nate Drag, for their work in creating this important initiative.”
“We designed the ‘Plastic Pollution and You’ curriculum with input from educators and the environmental conservation sector to prompt students to think about what plastic is, how they use plastic, and about the consequences of plastic pollution in the environment and their local communities through activities that incorporate the social, economic, and public policy context of this critical environmental issue,” said curriculum project leader Kathleen Fallon, Ph.D., a Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist with New York Sea Grant, Stony Brook, New York.
“New York Sea Grant was pleased to provide its experience and expertise in this collaborative effort to develop a new and innovative curriculum to educate and prompt interest in reducing and preventing plastic pollution across New York State’s marine and freshwater environments — from our Atlantic Ocean shoreline and Long Island Sound to the Hudson River Estuary, St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers, and the State’s two Great Lakes,” said New York Sea Grant Director Rebecca L. Shuford, Ph.D. “The curriculum will serve an important role to inspire the next generation of coastal stewards.”
Throughout the program, students will learn technical skills such as data collection, charting, and mapping. Additionally, students will also develop advocacy tools like position statement preparation, technical solution design, behavior change campaigns, public policy development, and community-level action strategy to address plastic pollution. On Wednesday, April 13, teachers had an opportunity to have an introduction to the curriculum via an online workshop with the authors as well as a Sherri A. Mason, a noted freshwater plastics pollution researcher. To view the “Plastic Pollution and You” webinar or to download the curriculum, please visit www.nyseagrant.org/articles/t/marine-debris-plastic-pollution-in-new-york-s-waters-marine-debris-news or call 631-632-8730.
New York Sea Grant is a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, and one of 34 university-based programs working with coastal communities through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Learn more at https://www.nyseagrant.org.