Join Up for a Day of River Care, and Empower Your Family to Create Community Impact
The Connecticut River dictates the landscape of much of western New England. Western Massachusetts’ hills and mountains provide a river- and stream-filled frame for the Connecticut River as it flows through towards Connecticut and, eventually, into the Atlantic Ocean. The Pioneer Valley’s rich farmland is a gift from the river, and delicious local food is grown and raised on the valley’s river banks. The Connecticut River is the lifeblood of our local landscape, and we depend on the many different natural features that make up its watershed for everything from swimming and hiking to healthy food and fresh water.
Since the river plays such an important role in our lives, it is only logical that we should take care of it. Families can show their love and appreciation for the river by participating in the Connecticut River Watershed Council’s annual Source to Sea Clean Up, an event that mobilizes volunteers from all over the Connecticut River watershed for a day of cleaning and caring for the river. Held towards the end of September every year, the Source to Sea Clean-Up is an opportunity for families to learn about and practice stewardship – taking responsibility for the preservation of this precious (and beautiful!) natural resource.
There are many ways for families to participate in the Source to Sea Clean-Up. The easiest way to participate is to join a group on the day of the event. Families can look up pre-existing clean-up groups and find the group nearest their home, then join in for trash collection on the day of the event. More intrepid volunteers can choose to organize their own clean-up event within the Connecticut River Watershed, a task that involves coordinating trash collection and collecting data on the amount and type of debris collected from the body of water. Events can be organized by scout troups, schools and school groups, and even families themselves – but be sure to invite other community members so as to have a greater positive impact on the location that you choose to clean! Before organizing your own event, do some scouting along the river, stream, pond, or lake that you’d like to clean. Finding the area most in need of attention can help to ensure that you’ll have plenty to do and will accomplish a lot.
Families who aren’t able to participate in river clean-up on the scheduled Source to Sea date can still participate in spirit. If you know of an area in the Connecticut River Watershed that’s in need of attention, report it to the Connecticut River Watershed Council so that clean-up groups can be mobilized. Additionally, while the event is scheduled for a two-day window of time, families can continue the event in spirit at any time – stewardship and community service need not be confined to a single event! Whenever you have the time, take a walk down to by a body of water and bring a trash bag to carry out all of the non-natural items that you find.
Families can deepen their understanding of the importance of the Source to Sea Clean-Up by utilizing the educational materials and data-filled newsletter offered by the Connecticut River Watershed Council. A reading or viewing of the projects created by local students can help families bring meaning to their participation in the clean-up, and a look at last year’s data can put into perspective the vast amount of garbage that humans have dumped into the watershed (not to mention the math practice that data assessment can offer!).
Participating in community service of any kind can be a powerful experience for youngsters – they’ll learn not only the importance of lending a hand, but will feel empowered by the knowledge that they, too, can make just as great an impact as the adults around them can. Connecting to and taking ownership of the local landscape will help children to grow into conservation-minded adults, and will teach them how to care for their surroundings. Additionally, engaging in nature-based community service provides an opportunity to engage directly with the local landscape – allowing children to deepen their connection to their natural surroundings.
[Photo credit: (cc) Shiran Pasternak]