Fighting for Maine's coastal waters
Charlotte Soule grew up along the coast of southern Maine. She loves to be on the water whether it be swimming, sailing, or kayaking. The ocean is a huge part of her community as well as the greater southern Maine community. Over the past few years the Maine coast has started to collect tons of ocean debris floating in on the currents. This in turn has resulted in coastal destinations and beaches being covered in garbage. Seeing her home change for the worst, Charlotte realized that a culminating leadership project was a perfect start to a greater solution for cleaning the coast. Through her CLP Charlotte planned a beach cleanup with members of her local high school and elementary school. By teaching these students about the ocean debris issue in Maine she was able to gain support for the beach cleanup and find a purpose in cleaning up her home.
“These beaches are like my backyard, and seeing them covered in garbage motivated me to find a solution.” -Charlotte Soule
Implementation of Project
After returning to her sending school in Freeport, Maine, Charlotte began figuring out her Culminating Leadership Project. The first thing she did was become the co-leader of her high school’s Earth Club. This club gave her an outlet to implement her CLP plans. Because snow was still piled on the ground, the beach cleanup was put on the back burner until nicer weather came. While still planning her action day for the actual beach cleanup, she also organized a small field trip with the elementary school where she and a teacher supervisor took four young boys around the town of Freeport collecting litter. Through this, Charlotte also taught the boys about the importance of cleaning up litter because it often finds its way into the ocean through storm drains. This was the precursor to her project.
Once the sun came and melted the snow she started to spread the word for the beach cleanup through emails and announcements. Because it was held on a Saturday, transportation was easy through the help of parents and students. The action day arrived and 5 students from the Earth Club were able to attend. They managed to still clean the majority of debris off of the beach.
“Teaching students about the importance of keeping our oceans clean was one of the biggest accomplishments of my project.” -Charlotte Soule
Results of Project
The Maine Coastal Clean-up had a total of 6 participants on the action day, and 10 people who helped make emails posters and announcements. They began the cleanup at 9:30 am on Saturday, April 27th and went until 12:00 pm. In total they collected approximately 45 lbs of garbage and debris, not including the numerous lobster traps and large fence pieces. Half way through the cleanup, the action team stopped for snacks and water. Charlotte and the action team hauled the garbage bags and larger items to the entrance of the beach where they then loaded the garbage into Charlotte’s truck and drove it back to Freeport. Charlotte then spent 3 hours sorting through all of the collected garbage and organized it into piles of recyclables and garbage. After re-bagging the debris, the garbage was taken to a town dumpster and the recyclables were taken to a recycling container.
“Even just five people have the ability to make a difference in their community.” – Charlotte Soule
Charlotte will be graduating Freeport High School in the spring of 2020, she then plans to go on to college. Wherever life takes Charlotte, she hopes to continue to use her leadership skills that she learned while at Alzar school. Charlotte plans to continue to implement the beach cleanups through her school’s Earth Club in her senior year and hopes to pass on the tradition to underclassmen when she graduates. She will continue to be an environmental role model for younger students and hopes that the beach cleanups benefit the southern Maine coast for years to come.
“I will always remember the feeling of helping my community and the environment. Practicing sustainability in our everyday life is what is going to save our planet.” -Charlotte Soule