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Youth from Thurston County Juvenile Court are participating in weekly environmental field experiences or workshops at various locations around Thurston County in a new partnership with Rachel Stendahl/Chehalis Basin Education Consortium and ESD 113. Every week, they engage with local environmental professionals to learn hands-on science and about green careers. On 11/8/2019, they participated in a river cleanup and recycling demonstration led by Aimee Christy from Pacific Shellfish Institute.

The youth quickly and enthusiastically gathered 25 lbs of trash and recyclables from the riverbanks of the Deschutes River at Pioneer Park, Tumwater. They learned about micro-plastics and its effects on the ecosystem, and about how this debris would eventually make its way into the Salish Sea at the nearby estuary of Budd Inlet. The youth kept tally of what kinds of items they were collecting on clipboards with official data sheets from the Ocean Conservancy. The data they collected was then uploaded into the Ocean Conservancy’s database as part of a worldwide effort to keep our oceans clean of trash and debris.

Lastly, the youth sorted the debris so that recyclables would be taken to the appropriate facility. The weather was perfect, and the youth were happy to be outside, even performing what could have been a tedious task, but the youth turned it into a friendly competition and really exceeded all expectations for the event. It was clear that the youth gained greater understanding of a local environmental topic, had fun, and felt proud of their contribution to the environment.