Skip to main content
Two Duke students stand behind a table covered with art materials at an outdoor event.
Nisha Jakkinpala and Gabe Mendoza greet visitors at the Beaufort Farmer’s Market. The students led an outreach event to help promote clean storm drains.

On July 1, DukeEngage Marine Lab students led an outreach event at the Beaufort Farmer’s Market. With art, games, and displays, they promoted Adopt-A-Drain, a project that encourages local community members to care for the storm drains in their area.

Children created artwork by painting models of fish and other marine animals, then stamping them onto pieces of paper and hanging them up to dry. A beanbag toss game rewarded players who threw “water” bags into the drain and “trash” bags into the garbage bin.

A young man in a tie-dye t-shirt stands smiling in front of tents. He holds a flyer in his hand.
DukeEngage Marine Lab student Jack Balint-Kurti distributed flyers to passers-by and encouraged them to participate in a beanbag toss game.

Students displayed posters and flyers that encouraged community members to adopt a drain near them and pledge to keep it clean. Participants can also submit data about the trash and debris they remove from the drains.

“We’ve been partnering with Coastal Carolina Riverwatch to do these art-and-drain events to promote clean water and decrease pollutants in storm drains,” said Liz DeMattia, Research Scientist at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, who directs the DukeEngage Marine Lab program.

“We’re using art to connect local communities with the environment,” said Rachel Noble, Mary and Watts Hill Jr. Distinguished Professor of Marine Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Adopt-A-Drain project was developed during a long-standing collaboration between DeMattia, Noble, and their respective institutions — the Duke University Marine Lab Community Science Initiative and the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of Marine Science in Morehead City.

“We only want water going down the drain,” said DeMattia. “Let’s keep single-use plastics and nitrogen and bacteria out of our storm water that goes into our local waters.”

In addition to performing outreach events, DukeEngage Marine Lab students have been working with local community organizations on several environmental conservation projects during their summer in Beaufort.

“It’s a great community,” said Nisha Jakkinpala, the student who designed the outreach event. “I really liked working with our community partners.”

A young man in a blue shirt stands behind a table with art supplies on it.
DukeEngage Marine Lab student Jake Marrs assists at an art-making station for children.