Long Island High School-ers Offer Winning "Solutions for Pollution"
Long Island Sound Study - News

— By Paul C. Focazio, NYSG's Communications Manager

Stony Brook, NY, June 15, 2020 - Winners have been named in "Solution for Pollution," a 2019-2020 high school competition on marine pollution / plastic debris. 

The content, sponsored by New York Sea Grant and administered by the Port Jefferson Flotilla of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, was aimed at Long Island public and private high school students.

From Fall 2019 through April 1, 2020, students were asked to submit concepts for reducing trash in Long Island's waterways and beaches with a focus on the Long Island Sound and its associated harbors. 

"The goal was to create cost-effective methods to return our waterways to a trash-free sea," said Herbert Herman, the Flotilla's staff officer for public affairs and the NYSG project's principle investigator.

In mid-May, Herman announced that Mary Grlic from Garden City High School was the first place winner of the content and its $600 prize. 

In her essay, "Museum," Grlic wrote of ocean and water pollution's growing global impact, saying it is "causing harm to the Earth and all of its inhabitants. Water surrounds Long Island, New York, making it a place that is susceptible to the dangers of waterway pollution, especially for those who live by the Long Island Sound."

Grlic's proposal is for The Oceanic Museum of Long Island, which, if built, would "support the overwhelming pollution in oceans all across the world, especially on Long Island, so that residents and tourists can truly comprehend how their use of plastic can impact their environment and homes."

"Yours was an excellent essay and you and your high school should be proud of this achievement," wrote Herman in a message to Grlic. 

Second ($300) and third ($150) place went to, respectively, Kaitlyn Ehlers from Ward Melville High School and the team of Karen Cheung, Lisa Cheung, Griffin Postley and Nichole Tiglias from Locust Valley High School. 

"SOS: Save Our Sound," Ehlers' essay, called for the formation of a coastal stewards program by collaborating with north shore high schools across Long Island. "My vision is to work alongside student leaders in high schools along the north shore to create a club in each school where the members designate days to clean up the beaches and seaside in and around their communities," said Ehlers.

In their essay, "Microfibers," the students from Locust Valley High School focused on the plastic fibers that are shed from textiles and that can carry a toxic chemical that affects the food chain.

"Our mission is to reduce the amount of microplastic fibers in the Long Island Sound," said (Karen) Cheung. "There are many methods to do this such as installing the Filtrol in your home, using liquid detergent instead of powder detergent, and using colder wash settings." 

As to why many of these solutions have yet to see major traction, the team said: "We believe that the problem is that the public majority is not aware of the issue and its extent, so we are proposing a press campaign to spread our message as effectively as possible. We will use posters, billboards, online advertisements, television advertisements, and educational events."

And like with the others who put forth winning proposals to address concerns, team Locust Valley believes, "Once the public understands the extent of this environmental issue and how it will affect us as a community, people will automatically seek to reverse this issue."

Though there will not be a formal ceremony due to the current situation with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, all of the winners received a formal letter from Richard J. Musselwhite Sr., the U.S. Coast Guard Flotilla Commander of the 1st Southern District.

"Pollution of our Long Island’s beaches and waterways is of great concern to the Coast Guard and to the public generally," said Musselwhite Sr. Addressing the winners directly, he added, "The ideas on dealing with marine and beach pollution as outlined in your submissions were innovative and would go a long way in alleviating these most pervasive problems. I wish to congratulate you on your achievements and wish you all great success in the future."

To the future and to young minds who hold the potential to help influence where we steer as a society on environmental issues such as these.

More Info: Long Island Sound Study

Long Island Sound is one of the 28 nationally-designated estuaries under the NEP, which was established by Congress in 1987 to improve the quality of Long Island Sound and other places where rivers meet the sea.

The Long Island Sound Study, conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Estuary Program (NEP), is a cooperative effort between the EPA and the states of Connecticut and New York to restore and protect the Sound and its ecosystems.

For more on what you can do to make a difference, click over to the "Get Involved" or "Stewardship" sections of the Long Island Sound Study's Web site. News on the Long Island Sound Study can also be found in New York Sea Grant's related archives.

If you would like to receive Long Island Sound Study's newsletter, please visit their site's homepage and sign up for the "e-news/print newsletter" under the "Stay Connected" box.

For daily updates and tips on how you can help protect and restore Long Island Sound, please join LISS on Facebook, Twitter or, sign up for their RSS feeds.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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