HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Students in Harrison County have been reading and talking about cleaning up the environment. On Wednesday, they put those lessons into action.
More than 120 Harrison County students hit the beach in Gulfport in search of trash. What they found gave them a different perspective about people and pollution.
"We're here to do a job and we're going to do it well," a teacher told students as she handed out plastic gloves.
The students grabbed gloves and garbage bags and split up into teams. Their assignment was to pick up litter along the beach around Courthouse Road in Gulfport.
"It's so trashy," one boy commented.
"The beach was terrible, like they had glass on the ground and all kinds of stuff," said sixth grader Amari Joseph.
"We found some soda cans and some plastic, but mostly we found cigarette butts, which we thought was disgusting. It was really gross," said sixth grader Hannah Monson.
The sixth graders from Three Rivers Elementary School have been doing a lot of reading about the environment.
"We talked about conservation and pollution and just what you can do to be part of the pollution solution within your own area," said reading teacher Heather Hanshew.
That lesson took on new meaning when sixth grader Keleigh Mallett came across a sea turtle that apparently washed ashore.
"It was lying down and everybody kept asking was it dead and I said, 'Yes,' because it wasn't moving. It was kind of sad," said Keleigh.
The encounter helped the students understand how they can help save lives.
"If I take care of the environment, I'm also taking care of animals, which I love them most of all," said Amari.
They can take steps to beautify their community, no matter what their age.
"I'm probably going to sign up for all the different beach cleanups," said Hannah.
"If only sixth graders can do it, then anyone can do it," said sixth grader Jonah Fairley.
After spending more than 90 minutes on the beach, the students filled up more than 30 bags with trash.
"It was fun kind of, because we got to help the environment. We're helping the animals around us, but also, it was kind of sad that people would just leave this here and not worry about it," said Hannah.
"I'm hoping that will shine some light on the fact that anytime that they're out that they need to pick up trash. If you see it, don't pass it up. Every little bit helps," said Hanshew.