VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - Four Vancleave High School students are taking on an environmental challenge. They are trying to galvanize their community to pick-up trash bags and cleanup Vancleave.
Vancleave High students Christian Davis, Micah Longmire, Matthew Summerlin, and Robert Bawcum represented Mississippi at the Student Ocean Summit in Washington D.C. And they were the only students from Mississippi chosen to attend the event.
"It was the first time I was in D.C., and we flew up there and it was the first time I've ever done that, so it was really scary at first," said senior said Christian Davis.
The students had to identify a problem in their community, and they didn't have to look very far. It was right in their own backyard.
"We were up there to spread the message of marine debris and how it gets in the water," explained senior Micah Longmire. "Most of Mississippi is a watershed and all the trash we just dump into a ditch next to us is going to hit the waterways at some point, leading into the Gulf of Mexico and killing animals and polluting our water systems."
The students put together a visual presentation and shared it with delegates and environmental experts at the Smithsonian.
"I never knew how bad it was until we started this project. Once we started it, I realized how widespread it was and what it does to the environment," said Christian.
"It was really kind of shocking, because I never noticed how much my actions really affected the environment," said freshman Matthew Summerlin.
As part of the project, the students had to come up a solution. So these teens started organizing the first ever community-wide campaign to cleanup Vancleave. They made fliers and collected donations of food, water, and tote bags.
"Just getting the land-based pollution so it can't hit the water in the first place. Because if we stop it here, and let the future generations know, then it's not going to happen hopefully," said Micah.
"We're like the generation of change. I think it will be very successful. I hope for it to be to where our environment is not affected as much, and hopefully, actually revert some of the effects it's already caused from what we've done," said Matthew.
The Vancleave Spring Cleanup is on April 27th. Volunteers will meet at Vancleave High School at 9:00 AM. Everyone who attends will receive a free tote bag, and lunch will be provided.