Cleaning litter from the Ben T. Davis Beach and the surrounding area helps protect wildlife from harm
Spring is on the way, and to many people in the Tampa Bay area that means it's about time to head back to the beach.
And whether you're a local resident looking for a quick bit of relaxation in the sand or a spring-breaker visiting the Bay area for the first time, you want to find clean, inviting beaches waiting for you.
That's where the Mayor's Beautification Fund comes in, not to mention volunteers like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Student Advisory Board.
Members of the Student Advisory Board (SAB) recently came together to help clean up a one-mile stretch of the Ben T. Davis Beach along the Courtney Campbell Causeway. Their efforts to remove trash from the gulf-front and causeway areas not only beautified the beach but also potentially saved local wildlife from harm.
"Keeping our beaches, parks and neighborhoods clean is really everyone's responsibility, said Debra Evenson, the executive director of the Beautification Fund. "We all live in a watershed, which means that everything we do on the land impacts our waterways. Litter thrown out a car window in your neighborhood may ultimately wind up in Tampa Bay. Litter in our waterways is not only ugly, but it can physically damage aquatic animals and fish and can release toxins into the water as the litter breaks down."
The SAB's endeavor was part of what has become an annual initiative for the group of hard-working high school students. Last year the SAB participated in the Dunedin Beach Cleanup, a monthly project carried out in that community.
This year, armed with trash bags and gloves, SAB members combed the designated area for the better part of two hours on a cloudy, windy morning. Their efforts didn't go unnoticed. Many of the joggers, dog-walkers and those driving by made it a point to thank the students for their hard work. By the end of the morning, the volunteers had picked up almost 200 pounds of litter from the beach and causeway.
"Cleanups like the one the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just participated in are a great way to educate people about the impacts of litter," said Evenson. "Seeing how much litter the Buccaneers were able to remove in a few hours shows what a huge difference we can make if we all work together."
Comprised of high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, the SAB is a group of highly motivated students interested in performing community service projects, fostering Buccaneer spirit in their schools and developing leadership skills in preparation for continuing education.
The SAB was established by the Buccaneers Community Relations department during the 1999 offseason and is aimed at developing the leaders of tomorrow. Since its inception, the group has become an integral part of the team's community outreach efforts.
All SAB members are also required to work at Buccaneers home games and to attend the home games in which they are not working. The group holds monthly meetings at One Buccaneer Place or in Buccaneer Cove at Raymond James Stadium. Through their interactions with the team, members get a behind-the-scenes look at the inner workings of a professional football club. They are also privy to the professional and personal wisdom of successful men and women in the sports industry.
However, the primary goal of the SAB remains giving back to the community, and last week's beach cleanup certainly fit the bill.