Clean Your Streams Day big hit in Toledo

Angela L. Gorter and Angela L. Gorter

With the help of instructors Ian Young and Margaret Weinberger, eastern Toledo is shining brighter.

As part of the 8th annual Maumee Watershed Clean Your Streams Day, Young and Weinberger, with the aid of over 50 students, picked up trash and cleaned the Duck and Otter Creeks Watershed early Saturday morning. A locally known event to kick-off the International Coastal Clean-up beginning on Sept. 18, the students gathered hundreds of bags of items from bottles to lockboxes from the Bayshore Road area.

“It was a good opportunity to do something practical — hands-on work relating to contemporary moral issues and the treatment of the environment,” Young said. The experience also tied directly into the value and service structure of the course, he added.

The watershed, according to Bobbi Gargac of the Duck and Otter Creeks Partnership, is one of the defined areas of concern in the greater Toledo area. Though, the city as a whole has been recognized as an area of mass concern for the level of urban pollution it fosters, she said.

Students who volunteered retrieved an array of objects from each of the four areas that they had been assigned to.

Some items found included shopping carts, tires, a safe, a bed frame, a moldy chair and a bicycle, Young said. The students from the University of Toledo, one of the major sponsors of the event, found sofas.

For freshman Yelena Yershova, the experience was one of enlightenment and bonding for her and her classmates.

“In class we talked about how we all got to know eachother better,” she said. “And how some of the things we found around the lake [pond] made us think twice. I felt that I was doing something good for once.”

Yershova and Young’s group were assigned to clean Hecklinger Pond, the head waters of Duck Creek that holds all of the water that runs into the Maumee River. The condition of the area, Yershova said, showed just how different people’s views are of the treatment of the environment.

“I didn’t think it would be that bad,” Adrianne Dues, an undeclared arts and sciences freshman said. She was informed of the field trip through an e-mail she received by those in the Chapman Learning Community.

Though she was not part of the classes involved, Dues felt that it would be a good experience.

“I knew that the pollution levels were high … I thought it would be a way of helping the environment,” she said.

There were 324 participants at Duck and Otter Creeks that day, Cherie Blair, main coordinator for Maumee RAP said. The largest turnout thus far, Blair added that the university involvement made it a success.

Both Bowling Green and Toledo were awarded for their efforts at an appreciation picnic held at the conclusion of the event. The students and instructors from the University won the Collegiate Challenge for the most participants.

The trophy, Young said, was made out of debris that had been previously pulled out of the watershed.

“Clean Your Streams serves two purposes: Physical improvement to the stream and education of the participants,” Gargac said.

The idea that teaching students that there are benefits to having clean streams helps them look at other issues and areas that play important role in the ecosystem was the main goal of the trip, Young said. “There definitely was a feeling of accomplishment.”

“I feel good that we accomplished a lot,” Dues added. “We were able to come together as a community.”