NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – High school students are challenging the public to get involved in protecting and preserving the environment during the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Clean the Bay Day on June 3.

Molly Jones, a junior at First Colonial High School, and Lexi Bradshaw, a junior at Cox High School, spent the morning with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, surveying litter throughout Lafayette River shorelines. The two are in the Environmental Studies Program in Virginia Beach Public Schools and regularly organize in cleanup projects to protect local waterways.

“I’ve lived on the beach my whole life,” Bradshaw said. “Being able to see the plastic floating around us when we’re out past the break, it’s really amazing to think that people are out boating and dump all their trash into the ocean and it gets washed up onto the shore and animals eat it. It’s just really sad.”

Jones shared a similar experience.

“We live on in Virginia Beach two watersheds,” Jones said. “So to be able to see the diversity to go fishing and see the animals and the things that are being affected by someone dropping a cigarette in the boat launch, and then it raining, and the chemicals getting the into the water and the animals that are in the water.”

The pair said that small fish and sea creatures accidentally consume microplastics that enter our waterways through litter. A chain reaction takes place where larger fish consume the fish contaminated with microplastic. From there, it’s a ripple effect.

“In essence it will never break down,” said Lisa Jennings of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “It just becomes microplastic, microplastic, microplastic, nanoplastic. It’s not compostable. The little fish is going to eat the tiny fish and the bigger fish is going to eat that fish so we’re all consuming this in the end.”

Jones and Bradshaw said that in past cleanup efforts, volunteers have made a big impact. In March, the two collected litter during a two-hour timeframe, amassing 33 pounds of trash. They say that equates to 50 plastic bags and 375 cigarette butts.

Want to help?

Molly Jones of First Colonial High School, and Lexi Bradshaw of Cox High School will be participating in the Clean the Bay Day with fellow Environmental Studies Program students on June 3. To learn how you can get involved, visit