Plastic Pollution and You: NY Sea Grant Curriculum Teaches Ways to Reduce Impact
Marine Debris - Press Release


Kathleen Fallon, NYSG Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist, E:, P: 631-632-8730

Nate Drag, NYSG Great Lakes Literacy Specialist, E:, P: 716-645-3610 

Paul Focazio, NYSG Communications Manager, E:, P: 631-632-6910 

Kara Lynn Dunn, NYSG Great Lakes Publicist E:, P: 315-465-7578

Stony Brook and Buffalo, New York, April 27, 2022 - New York Sea Grant has published “Plastic Pollution and You,” a 126-page, 15-lesson curriculum focused on a human-induced threat to the health of New York’s marine and freshwater aquatic ecosystems. The curriculum is designed to be appropriate for multiple grade levels, meets New York State and Next Generation Learning Standards, and aligns with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) New York Ocean Action Plan and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program initiatives in New York’s coastal regions (Great Lakes and New York’s Marine & Coastal District). 

The curriculum is co-authored by Kathleen Fallon, Ph.D., a Coastal Processes and Hazards Specialist with New York Sea Grant, Stony Brook, New York, and Nate Drag, New York Sea Grant Great Lakes Literacy Specialist and Great Lakes Program Associate Director at the University at Buffalo, Buffalo, New York.

In addition to several teachers from across New York State, representatives from DEC, the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Michigan State University Extension, Maryland and New York Sea Grant programs, and Suffolk County Legislator Sarah Anker participated in reviewing the curriculum. 

“In Suffolk County, we have prioritized environmental protection through actions such as banning single-use plastic bags, personal care products with microbeads, and the release of helium balloons. While legislation is an important part of environmental protection, we must also focus on educating our future generations about what they can do to reduce the negative impact that plastics have on our fresh water and marine life. Having sponsored Suffolk County Resolution 450-2018 to create the marine debris curriculum, I would like to thank New York Sea Grant, Dr. Kathleen Fallon and Nate Drag for their work in creating this important initiative,” said Legislator Anker.

“We designed the ‘Plastic Pollution and You’ curriculum with input from educators and the environmental conservation sector to prompt students to think about what plastic is, how they use plastic, and about the consequences of plastic pollution in the environment and their local communities through activities that incorporate the social, economic, and public policy context of this critical environmental issue,” said Fallon.

“New York Sea Grant was pleased to provide its experience and expertise in this collaborative effort to develop a new and innovative curriculum to educate and prompt interest in reducing and preventing plastic pollution across New York State’s marine and freshwater environments — from our Atlantic Ocean shoreline and Long Island Sound to the Hudson River Estuary, St. Lawrence and Niagara Rivers, and the State’s two Great Lakes. The curriculum will serve an important role to inspire the next generation of coastal stewards,” said New York Sea Grant Director Rebecca L. Shuford, Ph.D. 

The “Plastic Pollution and You” lessons and activities urge students to think about what plastic is, how they use plastic, and about the consequences of plastic pollution in the environment. They learn the different types of plastics, their impact on marine and freshwater ecosystems, and about the recycling process and trash capture technology. 

Skills developed through the curriculum lessons include data collection, charting, mapping, position statement preparation, and the design of technological solutions, behavior change campaigns, public policy, and community-level action to address the plastic pollution problem.

A recording of New York Sea Grant’s “Plastic Pollution and You” curriculum introduction webinar for teachers and educators.

Funding for this curriculum development was provided through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund administered by DEC. 

The New York Ocean Action Plan (OAP) seeks to achieve a better-managed and healthier ocean ecosystem that benefits people, communities, and the natural world. Development of this curriculum supports Goal 4 of the OAP to raise awareness of ocean issues and threats to its ecological integrity. Outreach and education to key audiences help increase communication, transparency and build support for ocean conservation and management. 

More Info: Reviewers for "Plastic Pollution and You" curriculum

The 12 educators who participated in review of the Plastic Pollution and You curriculum are: listed below by geographical areas:

Alden: Alison Moran, Alden High School

Buffalo: Jerry Krajna, Riverside Academy

Central Square: Fred Kowanes, P.V. Moore High School

Hicksville: Theresa Leahy, Hicksville Public Schools

Lewiston: Colleen Edwards, Niagara University

Mastic Beach: Terri Randall, William Floyd High School

Oswego: Heather Haskins, Trinity Catholic School

Philadelphia, NY: Lindsey Steblen and Andrea Inserra, Indian River School District

Port Jefferson Station: Shane Goldberg, Comsewogue High School

Selden: Pamela Lynch, Suffolk County Community College

Clayton/1000 Islands: Janet Burrows, retired, 1000 Islands Central School

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, University at Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County on Long Island; at Brooklyn College, with New York City Department of Environmental Protection in Queens and at Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Elmsford and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, FacebookTwitterInstagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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