A United Effort at Tybee Beach
In what has become a semester tradition, thirty-seven honors students from the Armstrong and Statesboro campuses once again joined forces to “fight dirty” in a clean-up of Tybee Island’s North Beach. This was the third time honors students have joined forces to clean up the beach, and the second time as a consolidated program. The group that came out September 8 was the largest Honors Program group yet, and many first-year students were among their number. The clean-ups are a tradition that is growing.
Students from each campus have coordinated these clean-up events through Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers, a local non-profit organization. The group hosts beach clean-ups for the general population as often as every week during beach season as well as organizes events for volunteers from specific organizations.
Armstrong Campus student Grace Powers (cell & molecular biology ‘19) has participated in this event all three times and has had a great experience with Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers. “They are a fantastic group of conscientious volunteers who really make an impact on our beach community and give people access to an easy way to serve their community,” said Powers. “Just in the short time I’ve been involved in these semesterly events, I’ve seen firsthand the difference they make, and I am proud to be a part of the group!”
In addition to picking up trash, the volunteers sort and count the items they collect to determine what the city and local companies can target to help prevent future beach litter. The number one littered item they have collected on Tybee is cigarette butts: over 190,000 over the past two years. Cigarette butts are dangerous to sea life for two reasons: they leach toxins when wet, and their filters are plastic so they do not degrade. For this reason, Tybee Clean Beach Volunteers provides a separate tray in each collection bucket specifically for cigarette butts so they can be recycled separately.
For many students, the beach clean-up provides a break from the norm of busy school and work schedules. Armstrong Campus student Noah Keeth (cybersecurity ‘20) said, “As honors students, we invest a lot of time in ourselves through studying and self-development. An opportunity such as the Tybee Beach Clean-Up is refreshing as it allows us to step away from ourselves and simply give our time to enhance the quality of the community.”
Statesboro Campus student Hannah Dorough (psychology ‘18) shares a similar sentiment. “Not only do we get to help keep the Tybee community beautiful, but we get to do so in the company of our fellow honor students,” said Dorough. “Knowing the reason behind our beach clean-ups and seeing the direct impact makes it all the more valuable.”
With such a successful event, Honors Program students are looking forward to continuing this tradition in the spring and in future semesters.
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