It's not every student that would choose to spend their Spring Break picking up trash along the banks of the Ohio River. Yet Geneseo Outing Club took 30 such participants down to Louisville, Ky., to work with Living Lands and Waters, an organization which works to maintain and restore riverbeds all over the United States. This was GOC's second year working with LL&W; we hope to make it an annual Spring Break tradition.
We met the crew on Sunday night, and immediately realized it would be a week to remember. The guys were hilarious, and dressed in three-piece suits that they would wear the entire week as part of a bet. Just as we expected, they made the work fun, and time flew by.
Monday: We started off Monday morning a little colder than anticipated; even though it began to rain, there were no complaints as everyone was just excited to be there. The crewmembers boated us over to the barge (also known as their home), and after a short safety talk, we went right to work. We sorted garbage into piles of trash, tires, scrap metal and lumber. The morning went by quickly and before we knew it, we had finished our first task.
The sun came out in the afternoon, and we were taken to our first site on the river. The amount of garbage was unreal - we saw everything from bottles and Styrofoam cups, to old refrigerators and children's toys. Without hesitation, everyone grabbed a bag and started collecting. Some people made it their mission to dig out a huge truck tire buried in the ground; after quite a bit of shoveling they got it out. At the end of the day we had proudly collected about five boat-loads of garbage.
Tuesday: Tuesday morning we went to the Falls of the Ohio visitors' center to learn about the Falls' rich historical side. We went to a fossil workshop and explored the museum. Even though it was pouring rain the rest of the afternoon, we suited up in our ponchos and collected another three to four boat loads of trash.
Wednesday and Thursday: Since we were rained out on Wednesday, everyone was excited to get back in the trash on Thursday. The group split up that day: some went back to the barge, others went to a different site, and the rest grabbed their bags and did the usual. The area we worked on is visible from what will soon be a section of a new bike trail. It was nice to know that many people would appreciate our hard work for years to come.
Friday: Friday was a gorgeous day and by that time, we knew the drill. This site had the most concentrated areas of trash we had seen all week; it was not easy to get to, as we were working in a huge field of honeysuckles. It was tough, but by the end of the day anyone could clearly see the difference we had made. To celebrate our last day of work and a successful week, LL&W got us pizza for lunch. That night we went out on the town with the crew, and said our goodbyes.
One crewmember estimated that we collected 15 to 20 tons of garbage that week. Regardless of numbers, each person finished the week with a new perspective on the environment and greater appreciation for those who work to protect and maintain our earth. GOC cannot wait to make next year's trip even better!