Gulf Guardian Award honors volunteer group for Galveston Bay-area plastic prevention program
A volunteer conservation group dedicated to the preservation of Texas’ natural resources was honored with a 2017 Gulf Guardian Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week.
The Galveston Bay Area Chapter (GBAC) of the Texas Master Naturalist program, a partnership between the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Texas A&M University’s Texas Sea Grant College Program, won first place in the civic/non-profit category for their Plastic Prevention Partnership (P3). The GBAC, led by Master Naturalist Chapter Advisor Julie Massey, the Texas Sea Grant/Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Coastal and Marine Resources Agent for Galveston County, is a 222-member cadre of trained volunteers that use outreach, education and conservation to protect Galveston Bay-area ecosystems. During their work on the coast, the group observed a destructive trend.
“The volunteers were monitoring nesting sea turtles and shorebirds for many years, and they began to notice increasing numbers that were being harmed due to plastic litter,” Massey said. “They decided they wanted to not only promote the proper disposal of plastic, but also to reduce its use.”
The group created the P3, an outreach and cleanup partnership with Galveston Bay-area stakeholders that resulted in more than 3,500 pounds of plastic being removed from the environment and 178 litter-education events that reached 3,250 people.
Massey said the award is a great honor for the Master Naturalists and that she is excited about the recognition it will bring to the volunteers’ accomplishments. “The Gulf Guardian Award is a huge honor,” she said. “The competition is open to organizations across the whole Gulf of Mexico. The Galveston Bay Area Master Naturalists are extremely excited and proud, and I am too!”
Texas Sea Grant is a unique partnership that unites the resources of the federal government, the State of Texas and universities across the state to create knowledge, tools, products and services that benefit the economy, the environment and the citizens of Texas. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is one of 33 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is a non-academic research center in the College of Geosciences at Texas A&M University. The program’s mission is to improve the understanding, wise use and stewardship of Texas coastal and marine resources.