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BES kids work with adults to clean up land in and around the Ammonoosuc

BES teacher Rosie Shea helped several students move a large old tractor tire during Ammonoosuc River cleanup work the school performed on Friday morning. (Photo by Darin Wipperman) (click for larger version)
September 28, 2016
BETHLEHEM — Thanks to a break in the rain, students from Bethlehem Elementary School and several adult helpers did not get as wet as possible on Friday morning. But the busy workers still had plenty of water on them during a cleanup operation from several spots in town targeting land along the Ammonoosuc River.

The school activity was part of the Source to the Sea project, an effort to clean up streams and rivers sponsored by the Connecticut River Water Council, an entity serving four states. Based on online information, after 20 annual Source to the Sea work days, more than 25,000 volunteers have picked up nearly 1,000 tons of trash, including 106,000 beverage containers and 8,400 tires.

With a tradition of supporting outdoor education, BES connected with several other entities for Friday's work. Trout Unlimited, Plymouth State University, and a staff member from the Fish and Game Department served as some of the adult leaders at the clean up sites.

Before departing, students talked through their assignment of a driver. Also, several rules were discussed to ensure student safety.

For example, students were asked to name several items they were either not allowed to pick up or had to ensure adult help to move. From needles to metal and glass, kids quickly showed their knowledge of best practices to protect themselves.

This reporter then went along with Group Five, which included eight BES students. Reading interventionist Rosie Shea was a BES teacher in the group.

Two other adult helpers were also part of the action, which occurred along Muchmore Rd. Melody Brown, one of many BES parents actively involved in school activities, was joined by Sam Aldridge, a recent Environmental Science graduate from PSU.

Aldridge reminded kids of several safety tidbits before the work began.

"If there's something sharp or dangerous, don't pick it up," he said.

The particular site where Group Five labored required some muscle power.

"There's tires," Aldridge said. "There's even a lawnmower," he continued.

Brown was really happy to see the kids, including her daughter, quickly get to work.

"I've never seen them so enthusiastic and excited," Brown said as she watched the kids in action.

After just a short time in the woods by the road, one kid summed up the find, calling the area "a junk yard of tires."

A large pile of tires and other trash was quickly made near Aldridge's pickup, which was not large enough to hold everything the group collected.

Students also found something too heavy and sunk into the soil to move: a tall sink. The discarded item was below ground for several inches.

A long antenna was another bit of junk stuck in the ground, but was easily removed with a handsaw Aldridge had handy.

Moving the junk was difficult for reasons other than weight. The bumpy, hilly ground included several fallen trees, as well as old fencing.

One item that made its way to the junk pile by Aldridge's truck was a deflated volleyball. After some of the students had finished their work, they hit the once round ball back and forth for a bit.

Later in the day, all work groups returned to school to catalog the trash collected prior to final disposal.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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