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Clarkson students work to clean up debris during trip down under

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POTSDAM - The shoreline of Stradbrook Island off the coast of Brisbane, Australia, is cleaner now thanks to16 Clarkson University students who mingled their global business studies with a day of picking up and sorting debris for research purposes.

Clarkson School of Business students are required to complete some type of international experience as part of their degree requirements. The requirement can be met in a variety of ways — through a semester abroad experience, taking the Canadian Studies course, an international strategy course, or by attending one of the two- to three-week Global Business Study trips - like this one to Australia, led by Assistant Professor of Consumer & Organizational Behavior Floyd Ormsbee, along with his wife, Amber Ormsbee. Students from other programs also take part in the trips.

On the beach, the students and the Ormsbees assisted a not-for-profit group called the “Wild Mob,” whose projects include research on the Great Barrier Reef, whales, tracking baby wallabies, and marine debris clean up and monitoring. Wild Mob General Manager Andrew Elphinstone teaches university courses, so the Clarkson students also learned about his overall environmental work.

“We went to Stradbrook Island off the coast of Brisbane and picked up debris on two beaches,” Ormsbee said. “The debris was sorted and cataloged, and Andrew demonstrated how it was different on each side of the island, determining the likely source of the items. This research helps to inform governmental policy aimed at reducing waste, debris, and pollution.”

The students agreed it was a rewarding experience.

“It felt wonderful to be a part of something that makes a difference,” Angela Perrone said.

Ed Pawlik added, “We didn’t just learn about the pollution problem concerning Australia’s beaches, we actually got a chance to make a difference.”

“We all hear about the need to recycle,” Eric Gleich says, “but you don’t realize how big of an issue it is until you see what the waste is doing to these remote ocean beaches.”

The students attracted some attention as they pitched in on the clean-up. ROTC graduate Mike Matroniano was wearing a red jacket and caught the eye of a little girl who on the beach with her mother. Ormsbee overheard the child ask, “Is that Superman?”

The hands-on project was all in a day’s work for the Clarkson team.

“Not only were we able to learn about the culture, ecology, and surrounding projects Wild Mob partakes in, but we were able to pick the brains behind those running the organizations – a ‘win-win’ situation,” noted Colton Weaver.

Emily Halusic said, “These scenic areas won’t remain as picturesque without finding manners in which we can be kinder to our surroundings. Maybe we all could use a couple of weeks abroad to remind us of what matters.”

Faculty members arrange the trip itineraries and contact businesses and organizations to schedule visits. As part of the trip, students visit a variety of businesses, cultural and social events or organizations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues.

“The objective is to expose the students to life and business practices in other countries, as well as the local people and culture,” says Ormsbee. “The intention is to prepare them for the roles they will take on in our global economy after they graduate.”

The students who participated in this trip were Aishvina Arasu, Geoffrey Baldwin, Elizabeth Duba, Sean Glasheen, Eric Gleich, Emily Halusic, Alyssa Hotalen, Mike Larkin, Erik Majka, Mike Matroniano, Ed Pawlik, Angela Perrone, Eric Stein, Megan Seaman, Megan Trendowski, and Colton Weaver.

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