Woman standing on a boat ramp pointing to a waste bin

Girl Scout Project Tackles Recycling Containers for Fishing Lines at Orange County Boat Ramps

Community & Services

In early 2020 Meagan Fawcett, then a 15-year-old sophomore at Lake Highland Preparatory School, approached Orange County Parks and Recreation with a detailed plan to replace or refurbish existing monofilament (fishing line) recycling bins at multiple park locations for her Gold Award Girl Scout project.

Used fishing line left on the shoreline, on piers or docks, or in the water is harmful to fish, wildlife, people and boat motors. Fishing line or monofilament takes 600 years to disintegrate while in the water.

Replacing and refurbishing the containers was an issue personally near and dear to Meagan.

“I saw a monofilament recycling bin during a backstage tour of the hospital and research area at Clearwater Marine Aquarium and knew immediately it was what I wanted to do,” she explained. “It allowed me to combine my love of animals, fishing and the environment into one effort.”

For her work with Orange County, she replaced monofilament recycling bins at Barnett Park, Lake Down and Highway 50 boat ramps and emptied, cleaned and replaced instruction stickers on six bins – Ferncreek, Woodsmere, Randolph Street, R.D. Keene and Moss Park boat ramps and Cypress Grove Park’s fishing pier.

Used fishing line is collected and cleaned by Parks and Rec staff and sent to Berkley Recycling in Iowa, where it is recycled into plastic items, such as tackle boxes, toys and aquatic habitat enhancers.

“Her leadership style is to engage others and collaborate,” explained Kathy Fawcett, Meagan’s mother. “Her enthusiasm for the project brought many offers of assistance, which means many folks participated.”

This included having others show her how to use an electric saw and mark PVC for a straight cut, as well as how to glue PVC to create a bin.

“Meagan is fearless and flexible,” Fawcett said. “This was an aggressive project with many stakeholders and multiple threads of work. She easily adjusted when things didn’t go as planned, staying focused on her goals. I’m so proud of her vision and her determination to make a difference in her community.”

Meagan enjoys all outdoor activities and is a varsity and year-round club swimmer. She holds college-level certifications for dolphin research, caregiving and training, including in-water and on-stage performance experience from The Dolphin Academy in Curacao. She has averaged more than 100 hours of service each of the past five years through church, schools and Girl Scouts. In November, she will compete for the National Golden Achievement in Service Award.

Volunteers play an important role in Orange County Parks and Recreation. Students ages 16 and older and adults can gain valuable experience coaching youth sports, tutoring afterschool youth, assisting with summer camp, picking up trash in parks and along trails, helping with special events and providing office assistance. For more information, email parks@ocfl.net or visit www.OrangeCountyParks.net.

Photo cutline: Local Girl Scout Meagan Fawcett pictured with monofilament (fishing line) recycling bins.

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