This spring, hundreds of college students descended on Georgia’s Cumberland Island during their break- but they weren’t there to party. Garbage bags in tow, students from the southeast, as well as Trinidad and Japan, hit Cumberland’s beaches to help the Georgia Conservancy clean up the island.
You can only get to Cumberland Island by ferry, but the barrier island draws 45,000 visitors each year. All that tourism and communing with nature leaves the island in need of a major trash pickup, not to mention facility repairs.
Taylor Morton is an environmental studies major at Spelman College. She and six classmates spent four days on Cumberland. The army of young conservationists cleaned bridges, trails, and the shore.
“We enjoyed spending time on the beach, watching the waves crash beside us,” said Morton in an email to GPB. “When we stopped for lunch, some of us even ended up taking naps by the sandbar. We even found a few animal skulls when we returned to work.”
Collectively, the group cleaned up more than 10 miles of land owned and operated by the National Park Service.
Cumberland Island’s spring break volunteer program has existed for years, but this year’s trip almost didn’t happen. Due to budget constraints, season was in jeopardy- until the Georgia Conservancy stepped in and provided veteran stewardship leader Julia Moore to lead the 2014 program. Moore also worked on the Georgia Conservancy’s Cumberland Island Service Project during this year’s MLK weekend.
The beach clean-up continues through early May.