Student volunteers clean up Kishwaukee river

By Ahyen Labanan

Despite the muddy conditions on Sunday, 32 volunteers came to the East Lagoon to participate at the sixth annual Clean the Kish. The event was hosted by NIU Outdoor Adventures and the DeKalb Park District from 1 to 4 p.m.

Clean the Kish is a yearly event held to pick up trash or litter from the Kishwaukee River. The Kishwaukee River has 28 plants and 30 animals listed as Illinois threatened or endangered species, according to the Winnebago County forest preserve website.

Madelynn Bramm, special events manager of outdoor adventures, said that Clean the Kish makes the Kishwaukee River more visually pleasing and brings everyone together.

“You just see a whole bunch of people working together and families even come here which is really cool for little kids,” Bramm said. Hopefully, these kids will become more environmentally conscious and want to do more, she said.

Attendees helped themselves to burgers and hot dogs before beginning the clean up.

Volunteers were split into three groups to clean a different areas. The groups cleaned Lions Park, the East Lagoon and the West Lagoon. They also picked up trash along Watson Creek and along the Kishwaukee River.

Equipped with gloves, garbage bags and pick up tools, volunteers picked up trash at each location. Usually, there’s a lot of garbage in the Kish, Bramm said.

Ildi Kurniawan, an Indonesian Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant, helped clean Lions Park. Kurniawan said he chose to volunteer because it is an opportunity to get out of the dorm and because participating in outreach activities is one of the missions of being a Fulbright scholar.

Bramm said that volunteers could not wade through the Kishwaukee River because the rain increased the depth of the water and it was too dangerous.

Bramm also said that students can impact the environment in other ways on campus.

“Pick up garbage that you see, that’s a really big one. Recycle when you can,” Bramm said. “Be more environmentally conscious when you can. Try and use less plastic.”

Caylah Moses, a junior early childhood education major, said the environment will not be fixed with just one event. It needs constant attention and love, which students and the community can provide.

“We get to help the environment, nothing bad can come from that,” Moses said.

NIU Outdoor Adventures will host more cleanup events in the spring semester.