Volunteers clean up College Creek


Courtesy of Merry Rankin

Volunteers trudge through College Creek while picking up trash July 25. The clean-up was part of the “Live Green!” initiative on campus.

Daniel Baldus

Student and community volunteers helped clean up College Creek last weekend as a part of Iowa State’s ongoing “Live Green Initiative.”

The 36 volunteers walked along the creek with trash bags, finding everything from cans and bottles, to hammers and folding chairs, as they searched for garbage in the water. They ended the day with a haul of 20 large-sized trash bags of material.

“Think of those large, grey trash containers that we have for events on campus. We collected 20 of those, basically,” Director of Sustainability Merry Rankin said.

The College Creek cleanup project was started seven years ago when one of Rankin’s interns discovered a heap of trash on the creek bed and decided to make a change.

Rankin said the cleaning of College Creek is not only good for the body of water itself, but for water in the Ames area.

“This creek connects into the Squaw creek, and that connects into other bodies, so we’re really talking about this creek being a single piece among a great number of factors that affect water quality in our community,” she said.

Rankin also believes a better looking creek will stay cleaner for a longer period of time. 

“If someone who might be inclined to litter sees a piece of trash on our campus, it might say, ‘Well, we don’t really care about this area. It’s OK to litter here,’” Rankin said. “When you see the community is clean, you put personal responsibility on yourself to be cognizant about keeping your surroundings clean.”

Rankin encouraged those interested in keeping Ames water clean to join the cleanup in the future.

“We had college students, we had people from high school, we had community members all working together,” she said.  

Rankin also highlighted efforts by the George Washington Carver Summer Research Internship Program, which has helped trash removal efforts by including its interns in projects to clean up the Ames waterways.

They cleaned up the section of College Creek that starts out in the ISU Arboretum and moves down near the intermodal facility,” she said. “So this year we were really able to cover all of College Creek, which was very exciting.”