School of Communication Beach Clean-Up by Emory Saia

The School of Communication faculty and staff travel to Fort Macon State Park Beach to participate in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual International Coastal Cleanup.

This event supports Chancellor Staton’s strategic plan to serve the public. SOC instructor, Barbara Bullington says it’s important that ECU, more specifically the SOC contribute to serving the Eastern NC community. “Helping to build a stronger community means safer, happier lives for everyone.”

Coming across the opportunity to organize a cleanup, Bullington reached out to faculty and staff. The response—immediate and positive. Before the cleanup, SOC faculty and staff donated tools to assist with the pickup. Donated items include: trash pickup tools, garbage bags, bug spray, gloves and a first aid kit.

Accumulating seven bags of trash, the crew rid the beach of a cigarette butts, plastic bottle caps and wrappers, balloons, tissues, cigar tips, plastic cutlery, fishing lines and a hair curler. Bullington says, “We not only left the beach cleaner, but also inspired others to clean up after themselves or do future cleanups.”

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the SOC cleanup crew acted. Beginning the cleanup at 11 a.m., Bullington says it lasted around two hours, covering a mile across the state park.

The crew consists of more than 15 SOC faculty, staff and family volunteers: Barbara Bullington, her son Kevin Bullington and his son, Kevin Jr. Bullington’s fiancé, Mike Harris, SOC Director Linda Kean, Ph.D., Brian Massey, Ph.D., Jin-Ae Kang, Ph.D. and her husband and two children, Brittany Thompson and her son, Cindy Elmore, Ph.D., Festus Eribo, Ph.D., Gina Presson, and Deborah Thomson, Ph.D. and her son.

The SOC welcomes new faculty to its team. Specifically, Gina Presson who has dedicated her journalism career to interviewing and reporting for Ocean Conservancy monthly.

Presson served as the Florida bureau chief, reporting and producing radio, print and web stories for Public News Service. Her stories airing on NPR and CBS affiliates around the country.

Reporting environmental, political, educational and health issues for Ocean Conservancy, Presson devoted her tenure to the Deepwater Horizon Spill and its impact. In addition, Presson covered beach cleanup efforts, protection of sharks, limiting oil drilling off the Florida coast, protecting marine life from debris, the impact of agricultural runoff among others.

Referring to Chancellor Staton’s vision for ECU, Presson says “It’s important to make a difference in whatever way we can.”

As for Bullington, she has hopes for future cleanups. After discovering the debris on the beach, Bullington says it has made her reevaluate her daily plastic use. According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic has been found in 62 percent of all seabirds and in 100 percent of sea turtle species.

Adopting community outreach, Bullington has served her community in more ways than one. Contributing as a volunteer for The Unnatural Resources Institute of Greenville, NC and the Dream Factory of Eastern North Carolina, she says these actions often spread in positive directions.

Beyond creating a cleaner community, Bullington and Presson agree that opportunities like this allow SOC faculty and family to connect outside of the workplace, to generate new ideas in a fun, collective way.

In addition to serving the community through the beach cleanup, the SOC held a kid’s bicycle donation last year. In spring 2016, the Outreach and Engagement Committee organized a kid’s healthy eating event at a local after school program.

The SOC continues to serve the Eastern NC community as part of Chancellor Staton’s 2017–2022 strategic plan.

To view pictures from the event and learn more, visit: https://schoolofcommunication2017beachcleanup.wordpress.com

To learn more about Chancellor Staton’s strategic plan, visit:
http://www.ecu.edu/cs-acad/strategicplan/index.cfm