I’ve always been a Mississippi girl, and I’ve always been proud of that statement. I grew up running around the piney woods, playing in the beautiful parks, lakes, and creeks that our state has given us. I rode bikes in different campgrounds and public spaces with my cousins, which is some of the best memories I have from my childhood. This is something that all Mississippians deserve to experience.
This semester I have had the honor of working with Mississippi Inland Clean Up Program to help keep Mississippi and our Hattiesburg community clean and beautiful for all to enjoy. I had the privilege of helping clean Chain Park, the Long Leaf Trace, and I even went to Pass Christian to clean one of our beaches for families to enjoy! Through this process, I was not only cleaning up, but I was also helping conduct research to help create positive change in these communities. I was able to document the trash that was being collected and give the information to the Inland Clean Up Program for them to do further research. Their research includes determining the most common types of litter, how it affects animal life/death in the area, and how to push for new laws and reforms from governing officials.
This service is not something I expected to enjoy, but it brought me back to those sweet childhood memories in our Mississippi outdoors, the one that I wish for all people to have and love as much as I do. I encourage you to consider donating your time to projects like this, or just even visit one of our public lakes, beaches, or parks with your family because there is so much to enjoy here in Mississippi.
Written by scholar Hailey Draughn, biological sciences major, who just completed her third year at Southern Miss.