By Luverta Reames
Forty-six students sacrificed part of their weekend to clean up the Kankakee River on Saturday, Sept. 17.
Olivet’s Going Green and Biophilic clubs and environmental science class partnered with other local organizations to help with the 26th annual Kankakee River Clean Up, hosted by the Northern Illinois Anglers Association (NIAA).
The teams joined to promote community involvement by canoeing along the river and picking up debris.
The number of Olivet students involved in the event, which was open to everyone, increased this year from 38 to 46 volunteers.
“It’s a good opportunity to get students out on the river to see the natural environment and hopefully wildlife,” said Dr. Randy Johnson, faculty organizer and environmental science professor.
Over the years, volunteers have shown constant support for the NIAA and its efforts to keep the river clean.
“Last year there were over 600 volunteers, and they usually bring in 30 to 55 tons of garbage each year,” said Barbara Thomas, cleanup coordinator and board member of the NIAA.
According to Thomas, the event serves to keep the Kankakee River one of cleanest in the state and to promote environmental awareness.
“I see it as both a chance to do community work and give my students the chance to have life-enriching experiences,” Johnson said.
Students found a wide variety of debris in the river.
Juniors Jenny Schoenwetter and Matt Kearney, president and treasurer of Going Green, respectively, found three tires, a chair, a bucket, a beach ball and a rake. They also filled up three trash bags with miscellaneous garbage.
“It was a great time to take care of God’s creation and to help out the community,” Kearney said.