Americorps Clean-Ups Scheduled For Region

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Ohio Americorps members are preparing for the next four of five clean-ups in the Appalachian region. 

The clean-up events, which started last Saturday, are held throughout the Sunday and Monday Creek Watersheds and are funded by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). 
Americorps volunteers received $2,000 from the ODNR for the cleanups, which are considered part of the Appalachia Zero Waste Initiative. 
The first clean-up occurred on March 17 in the Trimble Township Community Forest, outside the town of Glouster. 
Rose Keyes is one of the six Americorps volunteers who helped.
"We had four volunteers, myself and my co-worker. But even though we had a small group, we got an enormous amount of trash out of there. We removed 38 tires and over a ton of trash out of the forest," said Keyes.
Since Americorps is a federal government program, it is not uncommon for the volunteers to receive financial aid from the ODNR. But, Keyes says, the $2,000 fund makes a big difference.
"Without the fund, we would have still tried to do the cleanups. But it would have been a lot more challenging," said Keyes.
Besides the mapping and cleaning of illegal dumping areas, AmeriCorps members are using ODNR's fund to educate people about proper waste disposal. 
Keyes says illegal dumping is a big issue in Appalachian Ohio, fed by financial difficulties, old household habits and a lack of education. 
"This is an impoverished region of the state so a lot of people might not be able to afford to pay for trash pickup. Also a lot of the sites that we see are legacy dumps that are seen as the town dump," she said. "If there is a site that's been dumped on for 50 years it can kind of just become sort of the norm, the place where people just go and throw their trash. And a lot of it is also education; informing people about the hazards of dumping trash."
Keyes sees the cleanups as a rewarding activity. 
"It's very physical labor, you know, you get muddy and grindy and sweaty. And everyone is always in very good spirits. It's a weird thing because on the one hand you don't want all this trash to be out there but on the other hand it feels really good to be there and picking it up. You feel like you've done something good for the community and the environment," said Keyes.
The next four clean-ups will take place in Perry, Hocking, Morgan and Athens counties. 
Those who are interested in volunteering are asked to call the Rural Action Office at 740-767-4938.