Adopt-a-Beach™ for Your Classroom

Give your students a hands-on connection to science and their community with Adopt-a-Beach.

For more than 30 years, the Adopt-a-Beach program has brought people together to keep Great Lakes shorelines healthy, safe, and beautiful. This year-round service-learning opportunity lets you teach outdoors at your local Great Lakes shoreline. Students connect to a local beach while learning about beach health and the impacts a community can have on natural areas.

Organize a one-time cleanup, or include several cleanups in a larger unit or a multi-year service project.

Create an Adopt-a-Beach cleanup for your students

Scheduling a cleanup for your students is easy:

  1. Choose an adult from your school to become a Team Leader.
  2. Have your Team Leader register your event.
  3. Fill out our waiver. Please have the adult from your school who will be the Team Leader and at the cleanup with the students fill out this wavier for themselves and all minors who will be accompanying them for the cleanup and return the completed waiver to us before the cleanup at On the waiver, there is a table where the attending adult will list their name and the names of all the accompanying minors. In this table, the adult needs to sign off on the Release and Waiver of Liability for all individuals (themselves and all minors) and can choose to sign off on the Photo and Name Use Waiver for each individual. The attending adult must then complete the information at the end of the waiver, including their printed and signed name. If there are additional adults attending the cleanup, they can sign up for the cleanup online using the cleanup registration link or by filling out the waiver separately for themselves and returning it to us at

If you have any questions, Alliance staff are here to help! You can reach us at

Lesson plans for Adopt-a-Beach

If you’d like deepen your students’ learning, check out the free lesson plans you can use before, during, and after your Adopt-a-Beach cleanup. All documents and data sets in the lesson plans can be found on the lesson plan webpage.

These NGSS-aligned lesson plans are designed to support students in thinking critically about how humans impact the environment.

Want to take it even further? Educators also have free access to our full NGSS-aligned curriculum, Great Lakes in Our World, which teaches core science concepts and improves critical thinking skills while connecting students to their community and the incredible natural resource in their own backyard.

Data requests

At each cleanup, students collect litter and record data on what they find. Afterwards, the Team Leader enters the data online, where it joins data from other volunteers across the region to form a larger picture of Great Lakes coastal litter.

The litter data you enter, as well as historical litter data, is available to use in classrooms for analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and designing solutions. Visit our data page for year-by-year summaries. If you would like to request data with specific parameters (e.g. plastic bottles collected in Michigan from 2018-2020), reach out to us at

Create an Adopt-a-Beach Cleanup

Being a Team Leader is fun and rewarding, not to mention a great way for your students to connect with their community and the Great Lakes.

Schedule Your Cleanup