First Lady Laura Bush Promotes Conservation In South Mississippi

5th Grader Ocean Proffitt and her classmates know all to well how trash and debris can effect oceans.

"It can get caught in boats. It can get caught in anything, and it kills animals, and that would not be good. It might mess up the whole food chain, and mess up everything," Proffitt said.

That vital message was echoed by First Lady Laura Bush.  The first lady visited several 5th grade students, and even put on gloves, to sift through beer bottles and cans found in the South Mississippi Waters.

After that hands on lesson, she told a crowd of educators it's time to clean up the environment.

"I urge people here on the Gulf Coast and across our whole world to join these conservation efforts. Volunteer for beach clean up. Get involved in public policy discussions about sustainable, responsible, development of our coast," First Lady Laura Bush said.

Lady Bush says through a governmental plan, the United States will work with non-profit organizations and other conservation groups to educate, prevent littering, and stop other water hazards.

"Successful conservation really depends on informed citizen, as Jean-Michel Cousteau said, the son of Jacques Cousteau, who also is an ocean explorer himself. He says 'how can we protect what we don't understand.' Many people do not understand our oceans, and how important they are to all of us," Bush said.

Friday's ceremony also designated the Research Lab's J. L. Scott Marine Education Center, a "Coastal Ecosystem Learning Center".

The research lab becomes one of only 21 nationwide, and it will now have access to interactive exhibits, special grants and be part of multiple coast cleanup days.