You are here

Mississippi Coastal Cleanup Site Coordinator's Handbook

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P3064
View as PDF: P3064.pdf

Mississippi Coastal Cleanup logo.

Site Coordinator’s Handbook

A group of people pick up debris on a coastal beach.

Annually since 1988, volunteers just like you have been making a difference by removing tons of marine debris from our Mississippi coastlines. The Mississippi Coastal Cleanup is a partnership between the Mississippi State University Extension Service and the Mississippi Marine Debris Task Force. Our purpose is to facilitate cleanup events like this, while also raising awareness of the impacts of marine debris on the environment and providing information on ways we can reduce marine debris.

Marine debris is human-made litter, scattered across the entire ocean, that is swept along by currents and accumulates most noticeably along coastlines. It is estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic weight in the ocean than fish weight. With those huge quantities of marine debris in the oceans, it’s easy to see that marine debris poses a threat to us all. Everything—from the environment to the economy, from fishing to human health and safety, from microscopic plankton to the giant blue whale—is impacted by the abundance of marine debris in the ocean.

The purpose of this handbook is to help guide you through all aspects of the Mississippi Coastal Cleanup; refer to it if you have any questions throughout the cleanup. Thank you for volunteering to make a difference. This day is much more than just picking up trash. It’s an opportunity for a community to join together and inspire others to help take care of our coastal environments!

A person gives a trash bag to another person at a boat dock.

Supply Checklist

What you need to bring:

  • Table
  • Chairs
  • Ice chest (if desired)
  • Ice (if desired)
  • Canopy/tent for shade (if desired)
  • Work gloves
  • Insect repellent (if desired)
  • Comfortable, protective shoes
  • Sunscreen and hat
  • Camera/smartphone for photos

What Coastal Cleanup will provide for your site:


  • 1 sign-in sheet packet
  • 1 Mississippi Coastal Cleanup yard sign
  • 1 volunteer instruction sign
  • 1 recycle drop-off sign
  • 1 sponsorship poster


  • 1 roll of tape (to be used for signs)
  • 1 five-gallon bucket for sharp objects
  • 1 first-aid kit for minor scrapes and cuts
  • 1 bottle of hand sanitizer
  • Fluorescent flags (to mark hazardous material and entangled animals, live or dead)
  • High-visibility Coastal Cleanup T-shirt
  • Supplies for volunteers
    • Data cards
    • Pencils
    • Gloves
    • Trash bags
    • Clipboards
    • Lunchcards


  1. Your team should arrive at the site at 7 a.m. to set up.
  2. Set up table(s), chairs, and a tent (if needed).
  3. Post the following signs or tape to top of table:
    1. Mississippi Coastal Cleanup yard sign
    2. Volunteer instruction sign
    3. Recycle drop-off sign
    4. Sponsorship poster
  4. Set up volunteer supplies (trash bags, data cards/clipboards, pencils, gloves, and lunch cards) for distribution.

Recycling Coordinator

Mississippi Coastal Cleanup has partnered with TerraCycle™ to recycle plastic collected during the cleanup. This plastic will be recycled and turned into new plastic products. To ensure smooth collection of these recyclables, follow these instructions:

  1. Assign a volunteer from your team to be the recycling coordinator. He/she will be stationed by the recycle drop-off sign. The recycle drop-off should have its own area.
  2. Recycling coordinators are responsible for collecting all the recycling bags and inspecting collected recyclables to ensure they are the correct type of plastics.
  3. Recycling coordinators will also answer any questions volunteers have about trash separation.

Recycle items with numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6.

Recyling numbers and codes: 1 (PET), 2 (HDPE), 4 (LDPE), 5 (PP), and 6 (PS). Example of items to recycle: reusable water bottle, red plastic cup, styrofoam take-out container, plastic soda bottle, plastic yogurt container, and plastic toy shovel.

To learn more about TerraCycle, visit

Examples of Plastic Items

  • soda bottles
  • water bottles
  • mouthwash bottles
  • cleaner bottles
  • laundry detergent bottles
  • milk jugs
  • medicine bottles
  • pill bottles
  • shampoo bottles
  • soap bottles
  • juice bottles
  • condiment bottles
  • yogurt containers
  • plastic cups
  • plastic cutlery and plates
  • plastic lids
  • plastic buckets
  • plastic trays
  • plastic funnels
  • plastic tubes
  • plastic containers
  • plastic auto parts
  • plastic molds
  • plastic beach toys
  • plastic furniture


sheet and liability-release forms

  • The sign-in sheet also serves as the liability-release form. Please have all adults over 18 sign the
    sign-in sheet and have a guardian sign for anyone under the age of 18. One person can sign in for an entire group as long as they record the number of individuals in their group.
  • Remind all parents that small children must be accompanied by an adult at all times.

Supplies to distribute to each volunteer or small group at sign-in:

  • 1 data card (Spanish cards are available)
  • 1 pencil
  • 2 pairs of gloves
  • 1 black and 1 white trash bag
  • 1 clipboard

Gifts to distribute after volunteers hand in completed data card:

  • 1 lunch card (see lunch sites below)

Instructions for Volunteers

Refer volunteers to the volunteer instruction sign.

  1. Volunteers should work in pairs. One should fill out the data card while the other holds the trash bag and picks up debris.
  2. Show volunteers how to fill out the data cards.
  3. Volunteers will document their first bag of trash only.
  4. After volunteers document their first bag of trash, they should keep their cards until they finish so they can document the total number of trash bags collected.

Lunch Sites

Lunches at all sites are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets are required.

Harrison County

Barksdale Pavilion at Jones Park

Sponsored by RPM Pizza and the Gulfport Rotary Club

Hancock County

Washington Street Pavilion Burger Cookout

Sponsored by Office of Congressman Steven Palazzo and the Bay-Waveland Rotary Club

Jackson County

MGCCC Jackson County Campus, Estuarine Education Center

Sponsored by The Shed Barbeque & Blues Joint

Prize Drawings

Prizes will be drawn at the lunch locations. To be eligible for the drawing, volunteers must turn in half of their lunch ticket and be present at lunch sites during lunch hours to win.

Zone Instruction

Hazardous Materials

  • Do not dispose of or collect:
    • 5-gallon buckets
    • 55-gallon drums
    • Car batteries
    • Any other strange debris as it may contain hazardous chemicals
  • Mark the hazardous waste with the fluorescent flags provided.
  • Contact your coordinator to report the location and type of waste.
  • Sharp objects (glass, needles, etc.) should be placed carefully in the 5-gallon bucket provided at your zone.
  • Wear work gloves when picking up objects.

Marine Life

  • Immediately notify your coordinator of the location of a stranded sea turtle or marine mammal (dead or alive).
  • Mark any live or dead entangled sea life with a fluorescent flag and call your county coordinator.
  • Dead fish (not entangled in debris) do NOT need to be flagged.

Trash Disposal

  • Trash bags should be placed in the dumpster at your site.
  • If your site does not have a dumpster, contact your coordinator for instructions.
  • Harrison County beach volunteers should place their bags along the sea wall.


  • Tires should be placed next to dumpsters–NOT inside them.
  • Tires must be separate from bagged trash for recycling.

State and County Coordinators






Eric Sparks


Hancock County

Christian Stephenson


Harrison County

Kelly Griffin


Jackson County

Cyndi Moncreiff


Barrier Islands

Bill Barley


Data Reporting

You are responsible for filling out the Coordinator Data Form summary card to record the results of the data cards collected by the volunteers. Summary cards and sign-in sheets must be returned to the MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center in a timely manner for accurate data reporting.

Complete all of the information on your summary form, which includes:

  • Number of data cards returned
  • Number of volunteers
  • Number of black trash bags filled
  • Number of white recycling bags filled
  • Weight of trash collected
  • Total of each debris type

Send this data to the MSU Coastal Research and Extension Center by November 1.

Email is preferred:

1815 Popps Ferry Road, Biloxi, MS 39532

Unused Supplies

All unused supplies, forms, and completed data and summary cards must be returned to your city or county coordinator immediately following the cleanup. Please consult with your city or county coordinator to find out where to return these items.

Chevron logo. Mississippi Department of Marine Resources logo. Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality logo. Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant logo. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration logo.

Publication 3064 (reviewed 04-23) | MASGP-17-015

By Emily Fischbach, master’s student, University of South Alabama; Eric Sparks, Associate Extension Professor and Director, Coastal and Marine Extension Program; and Amanda Sartain, Extension Program Assistant, Coastal and Marine Extension Program.

Department: CREC-Coastal Marine Ext Program
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Mississippi State University Extension Service is working to ensure all web content is accessible to all users. If you need assistance accessing any of our content, please email the webteam or call 662-325-2262.


Portrait of Dr. Eric L. Sparks
Assc Extension Prof & Director
coastal conservation and restoration, living shorelines, marine debris, environmental stewards
Portrait of Ms. Amanda Nicole Rigsby
Extension Associate I

Your Extension Experts

Portrait of Mr. Thomas Martin Hegwood
Assistant Extension Professor