Each year, Clearwater Marine Aquarium hosts a “Trash to Toys” competition to celebrate Earth Day and encourage recycling. 35 competing classrooms at Hillsborough and Pinellas County elementary schools designed environmental enrichment devices for Winter, Hope and Nicholas, the rescued dolphins at CMA. True to our message of conservation, the toys had to be primarily made of recycled and recyclable materials found around the classroom and home (cardboard, water bottles, plastics, etc.). These EED’s are not placed in the water, but yet provide visual enrichment for the dolphins.
“This competition is an important way for young students to learn about conservation in a fun and hands on way,” says Kristen Ingvertsen, Supervisor of Education Programs at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. “The goal of this contest, while definitely having fun, is to boost awareness of the importance of recycling, and reducing plastics that could end up in our oceans.”
After many rounds of choices this year, Winter and Hope helped choose the finalists by each selecting their favorite toy, and rescued dolphin Nicholas chose the winner in the final round.
Nicholas selected the toy from Jamerson Elementary school as this year’s winner. Honorable mentions went to McMullen-Booth Elementary, Mitchell Elementary, Fishhawk Creek Elementary, and Lowry Elementary. The winning classroom at Jamerson Elementary will also receive an in-class presentation from a Clearwater Marine Aquarium team member.
Earth Day Coastal Cleanup
Clearwater Marine Aquarium also celebrated Earth Day with a Coastal Cleanup. 84 volunteers came out this morning to help clean up the coastal area along the Memorial Causeway, which connects Downtown Clearwater with Clearwater Beach, next to CMA. In just a couple hours, the volunteers were able to collect over 700 pounds of trash!