Eleven-year-old Nathaniel had never been out along the Potomac River before April 11. But he made his debut in a big way, helping a group of volunteers pick up more than two tons of shoreline litter.
On April 11, Nathaniel, his father Eilman, and 150 other volunteers at Teddy Roosevelt Island and Fletcher's Cove in Washington, DC, removed 4,350 pounds of shoreline litter along the Potomac. That's right, over 2 tons of trash!
The cleanups at Teddy Roosevelt Island and Fletcher's Cove were part of a larger, regional cleanup coordinated by our friends at the Alice Ferguson Foundation. More than 1,200 volunteers were involved, and at day's end, over 174,500 pounds of trash had been collected!
To find other hands-on opportunities to make a difference for clean water in your local community check out our Events Calendar!
Read what Nathaniel and Eilman have to say about their day of volunteer service along the Potomac:
Q. How did you hear about today’s event?
Eilman: He asked to volunteer because it’s part of his school activities. The middle school asked him to find a volunteer opportunity, so we went to volunteer.org, that’s where we actually found this event.
Q. Why did you choose to do a river cleanup as your volunteer activity?
Nathaniel: Most of the trash, when it’s on land, it usually gets washed out to sea, so most of the trash that goes flowing into the river eventually goes out to the shorelines. So it’s very easy to find some trash there and clean it up.
Eilman: We like that the activity is open to a wider age group. A lot of other events out there have age restrictions. So this is very open, family-oriented, and it’s a nice day out.
Q. What is something you have found today that surprised you?
Nathaniel: The thing that’s surprised me is finding three fetching balls, and they’re all the same. And no one bothered to come out to get them, even dogs.
Eilman: I find the dress shoe weird, I mean [laughing], I don’t know who walks in the mud in dress shoes. We only found one. We didn’t find the pair.
Q. Why is volunteer service so important for our society and our community?
Eilman: I work for a company who our clients are mostly nonprofit organizations, and one thing I’ve learned is that not many people actually give back. Everything has to be quantified, with payments, giving back for nothing is actually good. This is actually not giving back for nothing, you actually get a lot back by doing this, by protecting the environment and doing nice stuff out here that a lot of people don’t do.
Nathaniel: It’s just nice to know that you’re helping the community and saving the environment and also I think it’s good because it helps with family bonding.
Q. In your own words why is saving the Potomac important?
Eilman: We live in Virginia and this is part of our community, and it's 85 percent of the water we drink here, so every time we drink water we’ll think, 'That’s the place we just cleaned up.' It’s very important.
Q. Have you seen any wildlife today?
Eilman: We’ve seen some birds.
Nathaniel: Mostly bugs.
Q. Other than trash cleanup, what's your favorite activity to do outdoors along the river?
Eilman: This is your [Nathaniel's] first time on the river.
Q. What do you think?
Nathaniel: It’s pretty nice. It kind of reminds me of the beach — it’s just that it’s smaller.
Q. If you could ask your friend to do any one thing for clean water to help save the river, what would you ask your friend to do?
Nathaniel: Instead of buying water bottles, maybe get a water filter, or maybe just use the big gallons instead.
Eilman: Same thing. And think before you toss anything out, especially nearby water. Everything eventually washes up here.
Get Your Hands Dirty For Clean Water
Potomac Conservancy would love to see you out on the shores of the Potomac. Find an upcoming opportunity to get outside for a cleanup by visiting our calendar of Upcoming Events >