by Christina Foust, Associate Professor – Department of Communication Studies, April 24th, 2021
The Westerly Creek Elementary School Green Team organized a clean-up “From the Creek to the Lake” in honor of Earth Day on April 24, 2021. About 112 people from over 40 families at fanned out from school grounds, east and north to Bluff Lake, in the Central Park neighborhood. In January of 2020, Green Team Co-Coordinator Jen Mathes (co-owner of the Mathes All-State Insurance Agency) earned an All-State Doing Good Grant for the clean up. Though the 2020 clean up had to be canceled due to the pandemic, All-State delivered the grant to the Green Team, allowing for the club to purchase t-shirts or re-usable water bottles for the WCE Wolves who participated.
“We’re excited to not only clean up the Westerly Creek, Sand Creek, and Bluff Lake area, but also get more kids excited to join the club,” said Co-Coordinator Christina Foust. “The turn-out was more than we would have dreamt of in 2020. It’s great to see Westerly Creek working together and helping keep the creek beautiful and trash-free for the wildlife that use it.” The Green Team also celebrated Earth Day by using funds to purchase one environmental-themed book for each teacher at WCE, and distributing sunflower seeds and planting with The Urban Farm.
The clean-up event was easy to organize within the COVID-19 protocols, dividing the area into zones. Foust said this helped groups keep social distance, but also participate as much or as little as they wanted to. “We had some families sticking close to the school, with the preschoolers really loving the trash pickers. And then we had a group of Girl Scouts follow the path all the way to Bluff Lake, and really dig in around Sand Creek.” The Green Team thanks Denver Parks and Recreation for their partnership in loaning trash pickers and allowing them to use free trash bags, as well as the school for allowing use of the dumpster for quick disposal of the trash collected. The Co-Coordinators asked kids to write down the coolest wildlife sighted along the trail during their clean-up: a baby snake, a meadowlark, and an egret topped the list.