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Sara Šariri is one of the three winners from our YCP programme, who is receiving a mini grant for the implementation of her project idea, enhancing green literacy among her community. We asked her 3 questions on the progress of her current project, the interlinkages between green literacy and youth work, and what impact she hopes to have with her project. Here are her answers:

1. Briefly introduce your project and update us on your current progress.

I work as a research assistant at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb (Croatia), where I study the biological effects of pollutants in freshwater ecosystems with my team. My project idea is a collaboration between my team and high school students from my city with the aim of creating a first database on microplastic pollution of waterbodies in Zagreb while deepening students’ understanding of this issue and promoting their critical thinking and behavioural changes. These activities will take place next to the school year (starting in September) and all preparations are already underway. We have started promoting the project to teachers, testing the methods and preparing the educational materials for students. We have conducted a survey among high school students about their behaviour and attitudes towards water pollution by microplastics, the results of which we use in the preparation of presentations to be given in schools. We are thrilled that teachers have embraced our idea and are interested in participating in the project, and we look forward to this partnership!”

2. How does your project promote green literacy among youth? What is its connection to youth work? 

The target group of my project is geared towards volunteer teams, each consisting of a teacher and a group of 15-19 year-old students. All groups will be visited at their school by a researcher who will give a presentation on microplastic pollution of freshwaters, followed by a discussion about its effects and possible solutions, during which students will evaluate the impact of their choices and actions on the environment. By presenting students with up-to-date data from reliable sources, encouraging their critical thinking, and explaining the methods of scientific research, we hope to empower them to make informed decisions about plastic use and policy in the future. Trained students will sample microplastics from a waterbody near their school and present their findings. By learning through experience and placing the issue in the context of their neighbourhood, students will build a deeper and more lasting connection to the issue, leading to greener attitudes and behaviour change.

3. What are the key goals you hope to achieve with your project? What impact do you aim to have?

The main goal we want to achieve is to improve students’ understanding of water pollution by microplastics and to promote their environmentally friendly behaviours and attitudes. Once young people develop a sense of civic responsibility for the problem, they often help educate their families, which has a multiplier effect on their communities. Another important goal is to collect data on the amount, type, and distribution of microplastics, which could be used to gain information about their potential sources and pathways, which is lacking in Croatia but necessary for planning and implementing successful management. Therefore, we want to create a basis that will enable the implementation of a similar project at the national level in the future, involving more participants and expanding the temporal and geographical coverage of monitoring. With this in mind, another goal of this project is to develop a practical toolkit (including materials and method protocol) for sampling microplastics from water bodies by community scientists that is simple and user-friendly while providing reliable research data.

THE CIVICS would like to thank Sara Šariri for her time and valuable insights!

Author Martin

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