Volunteers wrapped up Renew Our Rivers’ 15th year at Lake Martin, and through their efforts, pushed the final tally of trash removed from Alabama waterways in 2014 to more than 255 tons.
“This year we removed more trash than we have in five years,” said Mike Clelland, Renew Our Rivers coordinator for Alabama Power.“I think it is a result of expanding into additional watersheds, recruiting new volunteer coordinators and focusing on building the next generation of stewards through new partnerships.”
For 15 powerful years, Alabama Power employees and community volunteers have made a remarkable impact in protecting waterways in their communities through Renew Our Rivers.
Since the first community cleanups in 2000, Renew Our Rivers has engaged partners across the state — and in surrounding states — to remove more than 13.5 million pounds of trash from waterways across the Southeast.
In all, Clelland helped support more than 30 cleanups across the state in 2014. He and the Alabama Power stewardship team focused on expanding existing partnerships with conservation-focused groups like B.A.S.S. Nation and the Alabama Bass Trail — especially among their youth members.
“Both groups are focused on expanding youth interest in fishing,” Clelland said. “And for both that means teaching conservation values through programs like Renew Our Rivers.”
Clelland said Alabama Bass Trail students kicked off the 2014 season last January with the first-ever Cleanup Classic on Lay Lake. Cleanups on Alabama Power lakes helped Bass Trail student teams gain conservation hours needed to qualify for grants.
Clelland and the stewardship team later hosted students on summer break for a workshop building fish habitat devices.
Also in 2014, the Alabama Power Foundation launched “Students to Stewards,” a new conservation education program. Through a competitive application process, Students to Stewards awarded grants to 25 schools across the state to support the development of conservation initiatives and the expansion of outdoor classrooms.
Since 2000, Renew Our Rivers has partnered with schools and teachers across the state to distribute more than 50,000 “Message in the Bottle” coloring books to educate students about conservation and environmental stewardship.