On Saturday, April 11, a group of Global and Community Health (GCH) students participated in the annual Occoquan River cleanup. The group, comprised of students in GCH 360 and GCH 390, included Ashley Pevia, Chanda Liaqat, Avery Sipes, Taylor Allen, Amanda Nguyen, Ellie Mirzaei, Chelsea Yeung, Taryn Kelly, Sunyoung Park, and Sepi Norouzz. Adjunct instructor Shannyn Snyder and GCH 498 student and Water Health Educator intern Brigitte Keen organized the GCH students’ participation in this activity to allow students practical application of course material while giving back to the community. The riverbed cleanup took place at multiple locations, including Hooes Run and Lake Jackson Dam, where students helped with the removal of numerous items that ranged from cans and bottles to tires to more unusual items including a giant metal safe filled with rocks.
River cleanup was divided into focused groups. Nguyen and Allen both focused on safe removal of the broken glass at the water’s edge. Nguyen noted that this was a tedious, yet important task as the glass shards could affect local wildlife. Allen added that the glass is dangerous for people visiting the river who do not have the proper footwear and protection.
Students Kelly and Yeung participated in river cleanup from a boat, picking up hard-to-reach trash that included items such as flip flops, cans, bottles, and even parts of a dock. Another group focused on sorting the debris from the river into trash or recycling. Park, who participated in this group, said, “Recycling is very important for our environment because it reduces water, air, and soil pollutants.” By the end of the day, students had collected enough trash to fill a dozen giant bags.