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Weekend events promote littering awareness, action

With Earth Day nearly upon us, a pair of events on Friday and Saturday will seek to raise awareness and prompt action to address the issue of litter in Beaufort County and on the Pamlico River.

While these events are not affiliated with one another, their missions go hand in hand. From 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday, ninth-grade students from Beaufort County Early College High School will host a littering awareness event at Festival Park, beside the N.C. Estuarium. Then, from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sound Rivers hosts its 10th annual spring river cleanup.

Since November, the ninth-grade class at BCECHS has been working to make this event happen. After discussing serious community issues such as drug abuse and homelessness in small groups, students pitched their ideas to the rest of the class, eventually agreeing to address the issue of littering.

“We chose littering since it’s very specific to Beaufort County and something we can combat as a community,” BCECHS student Elizabeth Gagnon said. “It’s very student-oriented, and everyone has a part.”

While some students will engage attendees with pamphlets and facts about littering in our area, others will offer demonstrations and activities for adults and children alike. Gagnon herself will serve as one of the speakers at the event, sharing her perspective on how littering affects her community.

“The ideal outcome would be more community involvement,” Gagnon said. “People don’t truly understand what kind of impact litter does have in Beaufort County.”

The students have also established a website to help advance their cause, and the event is open to people of all ages. For more information on the event, visit beaufortcountygreenteam.weebly.com.

With these students working to raise awareness on littering, community members can put that passion into action on Saturday, as Sound Rivers hosts its 10th-annual Riverkeeper Clean Up Cup Challenge. At cities throughout the Tar-Pamlico River basin, volunteers from Rocky Mount to Washington will take to the river in boats and on shore to help clean up their local waterways.

“As a way to make it interesting for people, we make it a competition between cities,” Tar-Pamlico riverkeeper Forrest English said. “The dumpsters are weighed at the end of the day, and we’ll be seeing who gets it this year.”

While participants are encouraged to bring their canoes, kayaks and jon boats to get out on the river, opportunities to clean up the shoreline will also be available.

“Obviously, we’re not going to get anywhere near full coverage, but we’re hoping to make a dent and connect people with their local waterways,” English said.

Sound Rivers has organized biannual river cleanups since 2006. To date, volunteers have removed more than 50 tons of trash from the river and communities over the past decade.

For more information on the cleanup, visit soundrivers.org or @pamlicotar on Facebook.