Local student hosting stream clean-up project

Story updated Aug. 10, 10:58 a.m.

Due to inclement weather, the event will now take place Saturday, Aug. 14, from 6-8 p.m.

An 11-year-old Winchester student is launching a stream clean-up project, and the community is invited to help. 

August 9, from 6-8 p.m., will see a “Clear the Creeks” event at the intersection of Barnes Drive and Main Street. Local student Sylvia Coogle is spearheading the event. 

“Basically, we’re going to clean both sides of the creek here in both directions.” Coogle said. As she explained the event, she noted numerous items lodged into the body of water, including multiple tires and an entire washing machine. 

“I’ve done my own littler clean up challenges previously,” Coogle continued, “where I pick up trash in my neighborhood, and then my mom [Minda Coogle] posts a challenge on Facebook trying to encourage others to clean up where they live and post about it.”

This particular Clear the Creeks event is being coordinated through the Strodes Creek Conservancy, and was funded by a $150 grant given from the “I Speak for the Trees” Lorax Project – a program by Dr. Seuss Enterprises and Random House Children’s Books that is funding 101 community projects focused on environmentalism. 

“We are working in tandem with Sylvia because we both have the same goal of improving water quality – reducing litter in streams,” said Shanda Cecil, project manager with the Strodes Creek Conservancy “We try to do at least one-to-two cleanup projects per year,. We’ve been organizing these projects for over ten years.”

“I applied for the grant in April,” Coogle added, “Deborah Jackson, [director of the Legacy Grove park in Winchester], encouraged me to apply for the grant after she saw me cleaning up the neighborhood and the park this past Spring.”

Coogle has taken part in environmentalist projects previously. Recently, she learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – an amalgamation of trash washed into the ocean negatively affecting marine animals. Sea turtles, pelicans, manatees, and other wildlife risk being entangled in the waste, or find themselves unwittingly consuming objects and substances that can cause bodily harm.  

“Litter that starts out in a creek such as this one often makes its way to the oceans,” Cecil explained, “this creek connects to Town Branch, and then leads into Strodes Creek. And Strodes Creek is part of Licking River Basin. And that in turn is a 303-mile-long tributary of the Ohio River.” The garbage in this tributary, Cecil added, has a path that could cause it to wash all the way into the Gulf of Mexico.

“After learning about the Garbage Patch, I made a news video project as an assignment for Baker [Intermediate School] in which I ‘reported’ about trash, some solutions to reduce trash/pollution, and the video was shown to everyone at Baker.”

Everyone is invited to take part in the Clear the Creeks project free of admission. Protective gloves and garbage bags, paid for with funding from the “I Speak for the Trees” project, will be available. A tractor trailer will also be present to haul away garbage. Those who plan to attend should expect to get wet and are advised to wear old clothes, as well as bring boots or sturdy shoes and bug spray. Those who attend can park in the grassy area near the bridge at the clean-up site. 

“I hoping to do more Clear the Creeks events this fall,” said Coogle. “I may start an environmental club for other interested kids. We would do other events, such as planting trees and native plant gardens, researching sustainable products (like clothing detergent sheets that don’t come packaged in a lot of plastic,) work as well as traditional liquid or powder products, and touring companies that are making sustainable products.”