Ames volunteers collect loads of trash at College Creek Cleanup

Elizabeth Smith, Merry Rankin and Hannah Bartel show off all of the trash that was collected during the event. 

Kelly Snawerdt

The Iowa State Office of Sustainability hosted its annual College Creek Cleanup event Saturday with 35 Ames volunteers coming out to help make a difference. Director of Sustainability Merry Rankin estimated there were around 25 full bags of trash that were picked up, and although most of the trash was lightweight, there were a few standout items.

Rankin said she and another volunteer found a bed made of weaved single-use grocery bags that weighed easily around 100 pounds.

With volunteers showing up between 9 and 10 a.m., Rankin said she was so thankful for the wonderful outpouring from the Ames community, which made collecting heaps of trash all the more easy.

“We were able to do the section of College Creek that runs through campus, we were able to go behind the United Methodist Collegiate Church and then we were actually able to go into the arboretum as well, so we really hit all of those little places before College Creek then dives again with different waterways,” Rankin said.

Every year, the volunteers are amazed with how much trash they find, but this year in particular, more faces showed up ready to work and clean up the creek. Local businesses were also quite supportive of the event, and shops like Dog-Eared Books, Wheatsfield Co-op and Blaze Pizza all donated either gift cards or door prizes for the volunteers.

Live Green! Office of Sustainability Intern Elizabeth Smith was also working the event, and along with the local businesses, she reached out to businesses like Hy-vee, Fareway and Walmart. Calling local Ames businesses provided the most success with donations.

“We still have really great support from a lot of local businesses in Ames,” Smith said. “That was really exciting for me. This is the first time I’ve experienced the College Creek Cleanup because I was not in Ames last summer but my hometown. So going from not knowing anything about it and then having to plan it was kind of crazy, but it was really fun.”

Volunteers were excited to go out and do a good deed for the community along with working toward a better future for our environment, and Cheyenne Minniss, the president of Climate Reality at Iowa State, was an example of one of those helpful hands. She talked about how Climate Reality wants to branch out with other Iowa State organizations so they can all come together and make a tangible change with the environment.

“We really want to do things that help our environment and do our part, and we really want to try to work with other clubs and the Office of Sustainability just so we can build more coalitions and be a united force,” Minniss said.

If any students would like to get involved with Climate Reality at Iowa State to find out about more ways to support a healthy environmental future, they can reach out to Minniss for more information about joining the club’s Discord, where meetings are at 5 p.m. every Wednesday.