NWF Earth Tomorrow® Leaders get ‘Down and Dirty’ for Rivers Alive

Earth Tomorrow students participate in Rives Alive Clean-Up
Earth Tomorrow students participate in Rivers Alive Creek and Park Clean-up
Youth leaders from National Wildlife Federation’s Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program joined forces with Atlanta community volunteers, donned their boots, suited up, and gave a whole new meaning to “going green” at the 2014 Rivers Alive Creek and Park Clean-up Event on Saturday, October 25, 2014. The clean-up took place at Perkerson Park in the Historic Capitol View Community in Southwest Atlanta. The group of eager volunteers collected up over 25 bulging bags of trash and debris from the creek flowing through the park as well as from the park grounds themselves. Common finds included plastic bags and bottles, glass bottles, aluminum cans, potato chip bags, and Styrofoam. The eyebrow raisers were tires, shopping carts, car parts, shoes, and clothing. Despite the polluted state of this unnamed waterway that flows into Georgia’s South River, there was some wildlife to be found—tadpoles, fish, and even a small, almost inconspicuous snake was spotted.

15527473367_1f10d23896_zThe importance of clean-ups like this one was underscored in pre- and post-clean-up discussions with the youth leaders and other volunteers about the challenges with controlling diffuse,
nonpoint source pollution (NPS). NPS is a major problem nationwide for streams, rivers, lakes, and estuaries. In fact, it is the nation’s largest source of water quality problems. NPS occurs when rainfall, melted snow, or waters from irrigation flow over land or through the ground and carries pollutants and deposits them into surface waters or introduces them into groundwater sources. Because of NPS, water bodies across the nation are not clean enough to support designated uses such as fishing and swimming.

Rivers Alive is Georgia’s annual volunteer waterway cleanup event that targets all waterways in the State including streams, rivers, lakes, beaches, and wetlands. The mission of Rivers Alive is to create awareness of and involvement in the preservation of Georgia’s water resources. Rivers Alive is held annually each fall and is a program of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Outreach Program. This clean-up event was coordinated in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Nu Lambda Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. All volunteers were given Rivers Alive T-shirts from the GA Department of Natural Resources as a small token of appreciation for their service.

15712662145_1982a26023_zNWF’s Atlanta Earth Tomorrow® Program engages urban youth in investigating causes of environmental challenges, helps them connect to nature, fosters their leadership of youth-led community action projects, promotes civic engagement, and nurtures leadership skills for building personal environmental stewardship. Program participants attend high schools in the Atlanta Public Schools System as well as the Cobb, Clayton, DeKalb, and Fulton County School Districts.

For more information about the Earth Tomorrow® Program, please contact Na’Taki Osborne Jelks at osborne@nwf.org.