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GLIN==> Volunteer Adopt-a-Beach Program Invites Great Lakes Participation

Submitted by Susan Campbell (scampbell@lakemichigan.org)

Volunteer Adopt-a-Beach Program Invites Great Lakes Participation
Anyone interested in helping out a local beach anywhere along the Great Lakes can now participate in an award-winning Adopt-a-Beach program, thanks to a new online starter kit offered by the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

As the Adopt-a-Beach program launches its third season, the Alliance -- formerly the Lake Michigan Federation -- is releasing the starter kit to increase the reach of its popular program, much as the 35-year-old organization's new name change is meant to aid its work on behalf of all the Great Lakes.

Today marks the opening day of the weeklong volunteer Adopt-a-Beach program, now in its third year. Participants in the program, which coincides with Earth Day on April 22, visit their favorite stretch of coastline several times a year to pick up and record debris, and monitor water quality in an effort to educate the public about beach health and the need for policy changes.

In Illinois alone, volunteers have collected an average of 10,000 cigarette butts per hour during the program's major cleanup day in September, which the Alliance coordinates every year at sites on four of the five Great Lakes: Michigan, Erie, Huron and Superior.

"Adopt-a-Beach unites efforts at individual beaches into one voice for Great Lakes stewardship," said Stephanie Smith, education program manager for the Alliance. "At the same time that returning participants are kicking off the Adopt-a-Beach season this week, our online starter kit makes it easy for new volunteers to get involved -- allowing virtually anyone now to participate anywhere on their own terms."

The Adopt-a-Beach program, with more than 100 volunteer groups, is a hallmark of the Alliance's work to engage people at the local and community levels in connecting and caring for the lakes.

"At a time when the Great Lakes need so much care, we want to step up and help lead the effort," said Dale S. Bryson, president of the board of directors of the Alliance for the Great Lakes, formerly the Lake Michigan Federation. "If water is the lifeblood of our region, then the Great Lakes are the heart. Adopt-a-Beach volunteers are showing that they're heroes in the effort to protect the whole heart -- not just one of the chambers."

The Adopt-a-Beach program's active volunteer participation lends grassroots' strength to a congressional push to fund comprehensive restoration of the Great Lakes. That effort is embodied in two bills currently pending in the U.S. House and Senate.

To view the new starter kit and for a list of groups participating in this week's kickoff, see: www.greatlakes.org

For Immediate Release Contact
Stephanie Smith - 312-497-1049 (cell)
Jamie Morton - 616-550-4269 (cell)

Formed in 1970, the Alliance for the Great Lakes (formerly the Lake Michigan Federation) is the oldest independent citizens' organization in North America. Its mission is to conserve and restore the world's largest freshwater resource using policy, education and local efforts, ensuring a healthy Great Lakes and clean water for generations of people and wildlife. More about the Alliance for the Great Lakes is online at www.greatlakes.org.

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