A good day to clean up the Earth

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
An old license plate, planks of wood, and underwear were among the trash Heather Farrell, left, Lori Wheeler and Britany Riles found during the Earth Day cleanup along the riverfront at Sunkissed Meadows. The group, from CJ Bio America, joined other volunteers in the cleanup effort put on by Webster County Conservation to clean both this area and the ditches along the bike trail out to Kennedy Park.

For Brittany Riles, one of the most interesting things found along the trail during the annual Earth Day cleanup event was something she couldn’t pick up.

“Look at this,” she said, showing a photo she took of a fat goose nestled into the grass, neck outstretched.

Volunteers gave the bird a wide berth Monday afternoon to avoid being attacked, but the goose may have thanked them if she understood their goal. They gathered up cans, bottles, plastic and other rubbish to make her home a little cleaner.

About 30 people worked in spite of the rain Monday at the north end of the Harlan & Hazel Rogers Sports Complex for the event organized by Webster County Conservation.

Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove handed out maps and sent groups of four or so up to John F. Kennedy Memorial Park, south to Sunkissed Meadows along the riverfront in Fort Dodge, and all along the bike trail from Fort Dodge to the park.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Rachel Frideres helps her son Mason Frideres, third grade, get his gloves on as he and his brothers Dylan Frideres, fifth grade, and Caeden Frideres, seventh, come out to help clean the area around Kennedy Park on Earth Day. Rachel was there with other volunteers from Cargill.

“Earth Day was started in 1970 to raise environmental awareness,” Cosgrove said. “We’ve come a long way since then … I think (the volunteers) will see there’s still room for improvement.”

Recycling and clean energy, in particular, have come a long way, he said. But challenges with litter, debris and pollution still exist.

Conservation workers were on hand to help shuttle the workers around if they didn’t have their own transportation. The volunteers could just leave the garbage bags in the ditches as they went to be picked up later with a truck.

Many of the volunteers came from companies which encourage volunteer service, including Elanco, Cargill and CJ Bio America.

Riles was there with a group from CJ Bio and, aside from the goose, they found a number of oddities along the river.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Jaclyn MacRunnel, with a group from Elanco, works on cleaning trash along the bike trail that runs from Fort Dodge to Kennedy Park Monday afternoon.

“I found underwear,” Riles said. “And some wood.”

“Tires, tarps,” said Lori Wheeler.

“A little bit of everything,” Tiffany Weiss said.

Riles knows the area. She used to live nearby, and would walk the trail to get to her sister’s house.

The amount of junk on the ground was enough to get some of the volunteers irritated at their fellow humans, but Riles wasn’t upset.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Dylan Frideres, right, hands some trash through the fence to his mom Rachel Frideres at Harlan Rogers sports complex Monday afternoon.

“I can’t control what anyone else does,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Webster County Conservation Director Matt Cosgrove hands out maps of areas to be cleaned up during the Earth Day event removing garbage from the ditches along the trail from Fort Dodge to Kennedy Park.

-Messenger photo by Joe Sutter
Heather Farrell, with a group from CJ Bio America, gathers garbage down by the river at Sunkissed Meadows Monday afternoon.