A cleaner river: Senior organizes trash sweep

Aug 24, 2012

Megan Brown in the riverFour-thousand-plus pounds is a lot of trash. If not for the expert organization skills of Heidelberg senior Megan Brown, it would still be polluting the Sandusky River.

On Saturday (Aug. 18), Brown led about 250 volunteers who participated in the 14th Sandusky River Clean Sweep, removing 2.3 tons of trash from the river. She organized the entire cleanup as part of her summer internship with the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition. In all, crews cleaned approximately 15 sites from McCutchenville to Old Fort.

“This experience has really opened my eyes,” she said. “I hope this isn’t my last experience where volunteering services and helping the environment go hand in hand.”

Two groups of Heidelberg resident assistants, on campus early for training, joined the volunteers, who combed the river and its banks to collect trash. Included in the 2.3 tons of trash were 43 tires and 1.480 pounds of scrap metal. The event was sponsored by the city of Tiffin and the Seneca County Commissioners.

After the three-hour cleanup, volunteers were treated to a picnic lunch, prizes, T-shirts and goodie bags. Brown was responsible for securing sponsorships and donations, both monetary and material, for the event.

In all, teams cleared 15 sites along one of Ohio’s most scenic rivers. The benefit of maintaining the river’s quality is important to Brown, a senior environmental biology major science major studying water resources. She’s also serving as president of Heidelberg’s Alpha Phi Omega service honorary this academic year.

“People seem to love doing this project,” she said. “It was great to see all of Tiffin come out for the 14th time and help in one form or another. … I’m pleased about how we were able to make a practical event about environmental friendliness such a big hit in the community.”

In addition to organizing the river sweep, Brown’s internship consisted of working in the office of the Sandusky River Watershed Coalition, handling paperwork and other requirements related to a pair of grants. She also worked with residents and arborists on the removal of dead ash trees, and represented the coalition at county fairs throughout the summer.

Although the internship was unpaid, Brown anticipates there will be a payoff down the road. “I worked with a lot of great people and made a lot of great contacts that hopefully will help with my job search,” she said. “It was a wonderful experience.”