In a one-mile stretch of the Grindstone Creek Trail, Mizzou Stream Team members found rusted metal poles, a machete and an entire desktop computer.
Junior Kevin Tosie, a project leader for Mizzou Stream Team, led a group of about 10 students on a clean-up project in early October 2015.
Mizzou Stream Team is a group within Sustain Mizzou, one of the environmental organizations on campus. Mizzou Stream Team members visit different bodies of water in the Columbia area and collect trash in and around them to prevent the garbage from ending up in the ocean. Tosie said Columbia supplies the organization with litter bags and work gloves.
On a typical volunteer day, Mizzou Stream Team spends an average of two hours tidying up a location. Tosie said the best part about being a project leader is seeing the students’ reactions to the amount of trash, which he believes “helps them change their lifestyle.”
“Once you start doing the projects, it’s an eye-opener for how much trash is actually out there,” Tosie said. “We try to stop it at the source.”
Stream teams across Missouri independently organize their own events, and are asked to report their accomplishments to the Missouri Department of Conservation, MDC Stream Team Coordination biologist Amy Meier said. Over 4,000 Missouri teams were active in 2014, according to the Missouri Stream Team’s Annual Report.
“It’s a great way to be a part of the community, and you feel great about yourself knowing that you’re helping the environment,” Meier said.
Meier said MDC stresses the significance of having clean water, education, stewardship and advocacy.
“The stream team program is one of those avenues for citizens to get together to care for their waterways,” Meier said. “It doesn’t have to be just picking up trash — it can be writing letters to legislators, planting trees along streams, monitoring for water quality or building a rain barrel.”
Sophomore Megan Tyminski, Sustain Mizzou vice president of projects, said the October event was her first time getting involved with a Stream Team.
“It’s part of my job to go to events, but I also wanted to see what it was like,” Tyminski said. “I was really surprised to see how much trash there was. One of the saddest parts is that the trash could be prevented if it was recycled firsthand.”
Tyminski said participating in Mizzou Stream Team events is a reason to go outdoors and become familiar with local waterways.
“It’s good to get your hands dirty and it’s nice to kind of give back and make sure that the wildlife stays safe and secure,” Tyminski said.
The club plans to host more events in the spring, including partnering with Missouri River Relief for an overnight camping trip at Alligator Cove, along the Missouri River.
Edited by Hailey Stolze | firstname.lastname@example.org