How much time does it take to make a difference? That’s a question I asked myself after my wife Natalie, our two kids, and I piled up four bags of trash and an old bed spring at a pull-off along Little Kettle Creek in a little over an hour. It was a small thing, but at each pull off along PA 144, which parallels Little Kettle, other groups of Trout Unlimited members were also cleaning up trash.
When I moved to Potter County last winter, I made a pledge to get more involved. Well, it took a while to get settled into our new lives and finally get the motivation to make good on that promise. But exactly one year after moving here, I attended my first (and so far only) meeting for the God’s Country Chapter of Trout Unlimited (GCTU). At the meeting, I learned about the stream cleanup day scheduled for April 22nd, which also happened to be Earth Day.
It turned out to be a collaborative effort, with members from the GCTU, Kettle Creek Watershed Association, and Native Fish Coalition Pennsylvania Chapter. A total of 17 individuals participated in litter pickup along a 2.5-mile section of PA 144 which parallels Little Kettle Creek. Approximately 15 bags of garbage were collected as well as various odds and ends such as bed spring, old tires, propane tanks, and more.
The fact that so much trash was collected in just a short stretch of highway is eye-opening; imagine how much litter is lying in our woods and along our waterways. It’s truly frightening.
“Litter is an ongoing source of pollution to our waterways and landscape that can be addressed relatively easy when people come together,” said GCTU secretary Andrew Mickey. “It was a beautiful morning to bring our organizations together to enjoy the outdoors while providing a service to the watershed and the community. People recreating on Little Kettle Creek will now be able to enjoy the natural area without looking at unsightly trash along the banks. We hope this effort makes people think twice before littering.
“We would like to thank the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program and PennDOT for providing materials and disposing of the trash. The event was a big success and we will look to coordinate similar efforts in the future.”
On a personal level, this cleanup provided a great opportunity to introduce my two kids, Sophia (age 6) and Jude (age 4), to the joys of giving back. They were unbelievably excited to participate in “cleaning up the Earth so that it doesn’t get sick,” as Sophia said. Every time they spotted trash and shoved it into the garbage bag, Sophia and Jude felt like they’d accomplished something great.
It’s important to teach kids from a very young age the value of volunteering and doing for others and for the good of society. Even if it’s something as small and simple as cleaning up one little pull-off along a trout stream. Also, it’s never too early to get kids involved in similar projects. As parents, we often worry about what age to get them started in sports or other activities, yet we rarely think about when to teach them the importance of giving back.
Special thanks to GCTU for bringing multiple conservation groups together. But more than that, for providing a way to teach my kids and future generations about the importance of conservation. I’m looking forward to participating in more events in the future.