Alabama Power welcomes college student volunteers in Renew Our Rivers cleanup

Alabama Power welcomes college student volunteers in Renew Our Rivers cleanup

By Capstone Agency writers 

 

Alabama Power gave students and locals alike the chance to welcome the fall weather and learn more about protecting local waterways by hosting Renew Our Rivers at the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk alongside the Black Warrior River on Sept. 28.

Nearly 100 student volunteers met at the Tuscaloosa Riverwalk on the north side of the University of Alabama campus to begin the cleanup both on land and in water — pontoon boats allowed the volunteers to grab trash that floated along the Black Warrior.

With more than 30 cleanups across Alabama each year, Renew Our Rivers gives volunteers the special opportunity to give back to the community and have a direct impact in a local, hands-on environment.

“It just makes sense for people to help, put their time in,” said Mike Clelland, an environmental specialist for Alabama Power who piloted the APC pontoon boat.  “They can maybe just pay attention, keep trash from blowing out of the back of a vehicle off the side of the road, and keep our waters clean for drinking.”

Over 85 students volunteered at the event. Volunteers included representatives from UA’s Student Government Association and the student-run communications firm Capstone Agency. Volunteers not only had the chance to clean the river, earn Service Learning Pro (SLPro) hours and cool off with Steel City Pops at the end of the event, but also an opportunity to learn more about conservation and litter-prevention efforts.

“I think that first and foremost, (events like Renew Our Rivers make) people more aware, just about littering in general,” said Ryan Anderson, a UA sophomore and director of RecycleBama for the SGA. “If you go and pick up 50 pounds of trash in one day, you’re going to think twice about throwing a water bottle into the river.”

Volunteers worked together to collect trash at the Tuscaloosa cleanup. (Anna Catherine Roberson/Alabama NewsCenter)

Volunteers worked together to collect trash at the Tuscaloosa cleanup. (Anna Catherine Roberson/Alabama NewsCenter)

Since the first community cleanups in 2000, Alabama Power employees and community volunteers have worked together in an effort to remove trash across the state. Just last year, more than 75,000 Alabamians removed more than 280,000 pounds of trash from local watersheds.

“I love getting involved because the environment is so important and protecting what we have is important,” said Katy Coe, a UA freshman majoring in marketing. “If we don’t do it, then it won’t get done.”

Renew Our Rivers is a unique partnership between community organizers and volunteers, and now Alabama Power wants students to see the impact they can have on our waterways.

“When we get the trash all out and I see people realize, ‘Hey, I can’t believe all this was here.’ That’s what makes me feel good, that people understand there is an issue,” Clelland said. “It’s a volunteer-based program, and that’s what made it successful from the beginning, and that’s what’ll make it successful for years to come.”

For more information about Renew Our Rivers and how to get involved, visit www.renewourrivers.com.

 

This story was originally published on Alabama NewsCenter.