"Everything leads to the ocean. Even out here in Taree, we've got so many waterways," said Megan Griffiths from JR Richards and waste education officer for MidCoast Waste Services.
Megan was talking 'rubbish', from a creek bed where students from five Manning and Great Lakes high schools were scouring the landscape for litter behind the Manning Valley Tourist Information Centre in Taree on Monday, April 8.
The students were taking part in the Project Loggerhead Turtle Workshop, driven by not-for-profit organisation Take 3 for the Sea in conjunction with Hunter Local Land Services (HLLS), Midcoast Waste and MidCoast Council.
Around 40 students from five participating high schools - Taree High School, Manning Valley Anglican College, St Clare's High School, Wingham High School, and Great Lakes College, Tuncurry Campus - spent the day learning about the impacts of plastic pollution on our environment and wildlife.
As well as learning about water catchments and plastic pollution in the marine environment, the students were given a talk about the Manning River helmeted turtle, endemic to the Manning River's catchments.
After collection of litter at the nearby creek, the students took part in a 'litter audit' of the rubbish they collected.
The afternoon sessions focused on teaching the students campaign strategies and leadership qualities students so students can take what they have learned back to their schools and devise and implement their own campaigns.
"Each school would do their own project and we hope that they'll be advocates and leaders in their community," HLLS estuary and marine officer, Brian Hughes said.
Organisers are hopeful the students will be inspired to take proactive measures to reduce litter and plastic pollution.
"I think it's so exciting what kids come up with. They think outside the box," Roberta Dixon-Valk, Take 3 for the Sea co-founder and head of programs said.
For participating in the workshop each school was given an financial incentive.
"MidCoast Waste is supporting each of the schools with a $500 grant to insist in implementing their program ... looking at what their key waste issues are, and then tackling that," Megan explained.