Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Stow It-Don't Throw It Freshwater Initiative in Hawkinsville, Georgia

- Guest blog submitted by Jannah Brown, Georgia Coordinator for the Stow It-Don't Throw It Project. 

When I learned that fishing line takes over 600 years to decompose and that it is threatening our water supply, I wanted to personalize the Stow It, Don't Throw It Project and begin the first freshwater initiative of the project's kind. Over the past two years, I have dedicated countless hours to the Stow It, Don't Throw It Project in rural Georgia, where I focus on water quality. This involved educating the public on the dangers of monofilament fishing line, distributing personal sized recycling bins, donating large PVC recycling bins, and making efforts to expand the project to neighboring areas.
Not only have I expanded the project to over 1,400 square miles in Georgia (four counties including: Pulaski, Crisp, Dodge and Houston), I have also distributed 878 personal sized recycling bins and manage 9 PVC bins at public fishing areas. From my efforts, I have collected 7 pounds 6 ounces (calculated to 33.5 miles) of fishing line which I have sent to the Berkley Conservation Institute. I feel confident that I have made an impact in my community and have improved water quality of the Ocmulgee River. 

After introducing the project to Pulaski County, I wanted to form an after school program to teach conservation and water quality lessons to school aged children. My club is called R.E.E.L. (Ready to Engage in Environmental Learning) Club. I have gained 70 members who help assemble both personal sized and PVC recycling bins, learn ways to personally protect freshwater, and assist with community service projects. I have visited classrooms at the Pulaski Public Schools and  outreached to over 400 students, ranging from pre-k to middle school. I educated the importance of recycling monofilament and each child was given their very own recycling bin to take home and properly dispose their fishing line. 

By volunteering, being interviewed on television and radio shows, writing newspaper articles, and being a voice in the community, I have outreached to well over 700,000 individuals. My personal goals are to collect over 100 miles of fishing line before I graduate high school, continue educating the public on the dangers of fishing line, distribute more recycling bins to citizens and public fishing areas, and to see the Stow It, Don't Throw It Project recognized on a national level. I have been awarded grants for the expansion of the Project and two college scholarships for my efforts with conservation and recycling. I am very honored to be a part of the Stow It, Don't Throw It Project and I hope I have inspired others to not only recycle fishing line, but to find additional needs in their communities, get involved and truly make a difference. 

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