CHICAGO (CBS) — Shedd Aquarium volunteers and CPS and surrounding area students helped clean up the area around 12th Street Beach on Wednesday to take part in Great Lakes Action Day.

The Great Lakes region is home to more than 3,500 plant and animal species and 40 million people; so on Great Lakes Action Days volnteers help pick up litter, remove invasive species and restore wildlife habitats.

The group on Wednesday first got the litter off the beach, then they branched out to pull weeds nearby. WBBM’s Steve Miller reports.

Among the 30 or so volunteers was a group of 17-year olds from Hinsdale who didn’t know exactly what they had pulled out of the ground.

beach cleanup 2 Students Help Clean Up 12th Street Beach For Great Lakes Action Days

Volunteer Gail Bartlett (WBBM/Steve Miller)

“We knew it was a weed so we picked it,” one said.

“Not sure (what it is),” another said. “Looks like a carrot, though. I kind of want to eat it but I’m not going to.”

Later it was determined it was a weed, an evening primrose.

“With more than 180 invasive plant and animal species in the Great Lakes, taking action to prevent the further spread of harmful ecological invaders is a good start toward restoring the Great Lakes,” The Shedd Aquarium said on their Great Lakes Action Days website. “Participants will learn about the natural habitats along the coast and in forest preserves around Chicago, while making a positive difference for local wildlife, from frogs and salamanders to migratory birds.”

beach cleanup 3 Students Help Clean Up 12th Street Beach For Great Lakes Action Days

Volunteer Ryan Wong (WBBM/Steve Miller)

Hinsdale Central High School students Kerri Kenney and Gretchen Huebner were happy to spend their last days of summer pulling invasive species.

“You can get your frustration out if you cut something. Like cut a weed and see it fall over.”

“I find it kind of therapeutic to come out here and release frustrations. But like, on things. Not like, people.”

Shedd Aquarium said it sponsors about 100 cleanups a year. Events are held year-round at natural areas along the Lake Michigan shore and throughout the Chicago metro area.

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