Beth Jurgaitis Finds Trash & Treasure on Independent Beach Cleanups


At least twice each month Beth Jurgaitis walks the beaches of Hutchinson Island and Jupiter Island with her trash-picking stick and a large bucket. She’s been a Florida Oceanographic Society volunteer for about two years, and though she likes helping with the FLOOR (Florida Oceanographic Oyster Restoration) program and community outreach, independent beach cleanups are her favorite way to contribute.  “I started going to beach cleanups organized by FOS and other groups, and found I really like doing it, so now I do it more often on my own,” says Beth. “I track my hours and FOS gets credit for it.” She likes to get small pieces of plastic off the beach to prevent sea life from ingesting them. “Clothing, shoes, cigarette butts, and plastic bags and utensils are some of my most frequent finds,” she notes. “I’ve also found designer sunglasses. Right after Hurricane Dorian I saw a lot of household-type items I believe came from the Bahamas.”


Beth and her husband Jim moved from Wisconsin to Florida in 2017 to be closer to their twin sons and their families, who live in Pompano Beach and Miami Beach. Beth had spent her career in the arts, and before retirement, was general manager of the Racine Theater Guild. In addition to overseeing day-to-day operations for the volunteer-based community theatre, she enjoyed organizing theater trips to Chicago, New York and London. Beth now volunteers for The Lyric Theatre and Martin County Arts Council. Still, FOS has a special place in her heart. She works in the seagrass nursery, and she and Jim volunteer for many of the cleanups and outreach events together.


“For most of my life I lived close to Lake Michigan, and I love the water, but I wanted to do something different than what we had in Wisconsin,” says Beth. “Plus, there was a time during my teen years when I wanted to be an oceanographer. It's nice to be able to pursue earlier interests in retirement. I find it’s very satisfying to spend so much time on the beach helping to sustain our oceans. Every time I go out, at least two or three other beachgoers come up and thank me for being there!”


Beth Jurgaitis Snapshot

Born in: Racine, WI

Alma mater: University of Wisconsin-Parkside

Hobbies: Fitness, reading, traveling, participating in enrichment programs, volunteering

Thumbs up to: Martin County Library system, author Louise Penny

Performance faves: Les Misérables, Hamilton, So You Think You Can Dance

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