Local Girl Scouts benefitting marine life through recycling project

May 29, 2012

By Billie Wilkinson

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Four local Girl Scouts are teaming with the Texas Sea Grant College Program to help save the area’s marine-dependent wildlife while earning prestigious recognition from their 100-year-old organization.

The girls, who comprise the entire membership of Girl Scout Cadette Troop 9665, will dedicate two monofilament recycling bins at Packery Channel Park, 14218 South Padre Island Dr., on Wednesday, May 30, during a 2 p.m. ceremony at the water’s edge. The bins are part of Texas Sea Grant’s statewide Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program (MRRP).

that will earn the girls the Silver Award, the highest award available to Cadette Girl Scouts and the second highest award given by Girls Scouts of the United States of America. Cadettes are Girl Scouts ages 12-14. The members of Troop 9665 are 13 and 14 and are all students in Flour Bluff. To receive the Silver Award, each girl is required to put in 50 hours to a service project that leaves a lasting impact on their community. The girls in Troop 9665 each put in more than 55 hours of work on their monofilament recycling project, said Troop Co-leader Suzanne Gilliam.

Monofilament line is another name for single-strand, high-density nylon fishing line that is used on fishing reels. Used line can be harmful to boat motors and marine wildlife. Birds and animals cannot see discarded monofilament fishing line, so it is easy for them to become tangled in it and starve, drown or lose a limb.

Troop 9665 Co-Leader Billie Wilkinson said she and her daughter, Karlie Wilkinson, first got the idea to take on monofilament recycling as a Silver Award project after seeing similar bins in Florida during family fishing vacations there.

“We had not seen monofilament recycling bins at home but one of the girls had seen one bin at South Padre Island,” Wilkinson said.

Karlie Wilkinson searched the internet for information on monofilament recycling, which led her to Texas Sea Grant’s MRRP headed by Brazoria County Coastal and Marine Resources Agent John O’Connell. With guidance from O’Connell, the girls built 10 large recycling bins out of PVC pipe and made 75 personal monofilament recycling containers out of tennis ball cans. They distributed the first 15 personal cans as a troop to fishermen at a pier on the JFK Causeway.

Each girl distributed 10 more personal containers when they gave presentations on the project to area civic groups and elected officials. The troop installed the larger bins at Bob Hall Pier and at six of seven boat ramps owned by the Padre Isles Property Owners Association.

The troop is installing two large bins at Packery Channel Park because monofilament line is scattered throughout the park. ”We held a troop cleanup project at the park and after two hours we filled a trash bag with monofilament line and we still didn’t make a dent in the amount there,” Wilkinson said.

As part of the project, the girls will check the bins on a regular basis, collect the monofilament line and send it to Pure Fishing, the parent company of fishing equipment giant Berkley, which is currently the only place that recycles used fishing line. The used monofilament is chopped up, melted down and the plastic is then used to manufacture new plastic fishing-related products like tackle boxes, spools for lines and artificial fish habitats. It is not made into more monofilament line.

Texas Sea Grant’s MRRP is a statewide, volunteer-led effort to reduce monofilament in the environment by educating the public about the problems caused by monofilament line left in the environment, and
 encouraging recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations. For more information about MRRP, contact O'Connell at (979) 864-1558, extension 116; j-oconnell@tamu.edu; or go to http://mrrp.tamu.edu/

The Texas Sea Grant College Program is a partnership of university, government and industry focusing on marine research, education and outreach. It is administered through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is one of 32 university-based Sea Grant Programs around the country. Texas Sea Grant is based in the College of Geosciences Texas A&M University.

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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.