It was only her third trip ever to the beach, but instead of splashing in the waves and collecting shells, 8-year-old Susanna Avila picked up cigarette butts, pieces of surf-worn glass and scraps of paper.
Susanna was one of 154 students from Pacoima Elementary School who ended a months-long recycling program Saturday with a trip to the beach. They joined California's ninth annual Coastal Clean Up Day as the first school to complete the Adopt-a-Beach School Assembly program, a fledgling environmental education program.
Started last year by a sailor-turned-environmentalist, the program received a $93,000 grant in June from the state Department of Conservation's Division of Recycling to educate elementary school students about the effects of littering on marine life. Michael Klubock, who started the program, said he hopes to bring the message to about 200 Los Angeles Unified School District schools this year.