Amplifying Voices

First Annual Student/Alum Jordan Lake Cleanup
by Emily Myron -- March 19th, 2012

It is amazing what 20 people can accomplish in only 3 hours!

Putting on the proper safety gear. (photo by Julie Elmore)

Putting on the proper safety gear. (photo by Julie Elmore)

Carrying down the canoes (photo by Julie Elmore)

Carrying down the canoes (photo by Julie Elmore)

How do people lose their shoes? I think we found at least 4 pairs!

How do people lose their shoes? I think we found at least 4 pairs!

Showing our Nicholas School pride!

Showing our Nicholas School pride!

Greg (alum) hoisted this ladder onto his kayak - pretty impressive!

Greg (alum) hoisted this ladder onto his kayak - pretty impressive!

Rebecca Fisher and Laura Mendenhall searching the Lake for trash.

Rebecca Fisher and Laura Mendenhall searching the Lake for trash.

Victoria Shelus and Kristina Naton take to the shore to pick up some trash that has rolled off the road.

Victoria Shelus and Kristina Naton take to the shore to pick up some trash that has rolled off the road.

Scouring the rocks for trash (photo by Julie Elmore).

Scouring the rocks for trash (photo by Julie Elmore).

More shore work (photo by Julie Elmore).

More shore work (photo by Julie Elmore).

Alum Andrew Jacobson doing his part.

Alum Andrew Jacobson doing his part.

After a boat ride, it is time to get back to work (photo by Julie Elmore).

After a boat ride, it is time to get back to work (photo by Julie Elmore).

Some of the crew and the day's spoils (photo by Julie Elmore).

Some of the crew and the day's spoils (photo by Julie Elmore).

Thanks to everyone who came out to help Jordan Lake!

Thanks to everyone who came out to help Jordan Lake!

This past Saturday, the Nicholas School Naturalists, Nicholas School Student Council, and amazing alums carried out a clean-up at Jordan Lake as a part of Durham Creek Week. Jordan Lake is an important drinking water source for Cary, Apex, Morrisville, Northern Chatham, and the Wake County portion of Research Triangle Park.  Unfortunately, it is also an impaired waterway, but steps are being taken to improve water quality of this important reservoir (a synopsis of Jordan Lake issues and rules can be seen here).

This event had a great turnout of about 20 students and alums.  Additionally, Frog Hollow Outdoors donated canoes for the event, so that efforts could be carried out both on and off shore. We were also accompanied by a motorized boat, supplied by Earthwise Company co-founder, Mike Ortosky, which allowed us to relieve the canoe-ers of their bags of trash.

Clean-ups are one of my favorite service projects because the impact is so immediate and obvious. When we arrived, there was visible trash along the roadside, in the woods, and along the shoreline. But, after only 3 hours of work, not an empty bottle, cup, fast food wrapper, or tire was to be seen. (Unfortunately, I completely forgot to take before and after photos, so you will just have to believe me). Days such as these always remind me what an impact even a small group of passionate people can make.

While at the Nicholas School, we learn so much about environmental problems and potential solutions, but nothing shows dedication and passion like donating time. Environmental service is so easy and important, yet it is something most of us feel like we are too busy to carry out. Events such as ours are a great way to get outside, meet new people, and give back to the environment and local community. I think the Nicholas School should support and sponsor more events like this one – there is so much learning that can be done by getting outside of the classroom! And alums, you can do this too! The Nicholas School alumni network spans far and wide; we can really make a difference! Maybe next year, this can be a coordinated effort of Nic students and alums across the US – let’s make it happen!

As alum Julie Elmore insightfully said, “Nicholas School students and alumni travel the world to work on complex environmental problems. No matter where we are, we become and important part of that community. It is important to keep an eye out for opportunities to give back and make a difference, even in small ways.”

Special thanks to the Nicholas School students and the Nicholas School Alumni Council and Alumni Engagement who made this possible (particularly Julie Elmore and Zach Forde-Hawkins) and Frog Creek Outdoors for coming out to support this work. We hope this becomes an annual event that will continue to grow. There will be another clean up in October – we hope to see you there!

 

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