The University of Idaho may sometimes seem like an isolated institution, but Alex Rheault, University of Idaho Sustainability Center volunteer coordinator, said it’s good for students to invest themselves beyond campus.
The UISC clean-up effort on March 30 at the Lewiston Reservoir in Mann Lake, Idaho, will give students a chance to do so.
“They might not get to see a lot of the surrounding area, so with this opportunity we’re bringing them off of campus and into the community, to not only show them how great (the region) is, but also to show (people) that college students can do great things too,” Rheault said.
She said the UISC likes to engage new volunteer projects in addition to its recurring ones, such as the Food and Farm composting program and the recycling initiatives. She communicated with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game early last fall to find a clean up or restoration opportunity, she said, and she discovered Mann Lake. One of the IDFG volunteer coordinators told Rheault that many people don’t know about the area, and it suffers from significant trash and pollution, particularly during snow melts.
The reservoir rests on Nez Perce land and only picnicking and fishing are allowed without permission. It spans 146 acres and the March 30 clean up will only last two hours, but Rheault said volunteers are an industrious bunch. She has 15 people but hopes to double that number, and said she’s confident 30 pairs of gloved hands can gather a lot of landfill and recycling material into trash bags to haul back to Moscow.
“Students who volunteer are always super dedicated and get a ton done,” she said.
Keaghan Caldwell, UISC event coordinator, said he prefers outdoor community service projects, and he’s cleaned trash off trailheads before. He said people should help each other keep outdoor recreation spots in good shape.
“It’s one of their places to recreate, and if it’s trashed they can’t use it,” he said. “It should be really important for UI students to help clean it up.”
Caldwell said it’s significant for students to show that they want to make an impact in their regions and not just stay cooped up in their classrooms. He said he appreciates the volunteers who have signed on for the Mann Lake clean up, and he hopes more will come along.
Rheault said volunteers don’t need to worry about expenditure, since they will be reimbursed for gas money
and all cleaning materials will be provided. She said she would like to send students on a recurring basis if the project goes well and the area requires future assistance.
“It’s very minimal cost, and I think it’ll be a good way to get students into the community,” Rheault said.
Matt Maw can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org