To CleanScapes and their allies, the image of kids fishing trash-strewn creekbanks is unbearable. After a 2-year hiatus, CleanScapes reemerged with hope and a vision – clean up the land adjoining Fishing Creek and adjacent roadsides in Mill Hall on March 26. They just needed a lot of help and when they asked, Mill Hall Borough and community members responded in force.
March 26 Mill Hall weather conditions were less than ideal – forecasted rain, possible hail. Fishing Creek was surrounded by scattered litter. Trout were stocked the day before and April’s opening day would draw hundreds to the Borough’s Park.
Forging ahead, CleanScapes volunteers gathered and were greeted with hot coffee, fresh fruit tart slices and donuts laid out by CleanScapes Board members Colleen Xethakis-Lacey and Mala Moore. By 9:30 a.m., 62 weather-ready volunteers were anxious to start. Opening the event, CleanScapes Project Director Elisabeth Lynch stood before the volunteers, scanned the sky as the droplets began to fall and half-jokingly stated, “This event is rain or rain! Thank you for joining us for the 7th annual Fishing Creek cleanup and please understand – you have a choice – if you decide this isn’t for you, that’s ok. No one is judged here. Only do what you feel comfortable doing.” No one left. They grasped trash bags and off they went.
Working five separate sites, the teams collected 1,460 pounds of litter in less than 3 hours.
In addition to volunteers from all over the County, Lock Haven University students and professors worked beside employees from Terrapin, Boy Scout Troop 54 leaders, Leadership Clinton County members, Mayor Thomas Bossert, Council member Derek Caris and Borough employees Tyler Rogers and Chief of Police Brandon Coleman. After the event CleanScapes President Dr. John Reid shared the following, “I recently retired from LHU and I miss working with the students. Seeing and talking with them, their uplifting attitudes…makes me so hopeful for the future. I needed this event. Yes, seeing the litter upsets me and that’s why I’m here. But seeing the people – all age groups – do the right thing, making a difference, and helping others helps me emotionally, especially given what we’ve all been through and what’s currently going on abroad.”
The event was planned in cooperation with Lock Haven University. LHU student recruitment originates with Chrissy Wise, Assistant Director of Student Activities. This year student Alison Rancont worked with CleanScapes. And Rancont had a big task ahead. Lynch added, “A few days before the cleanup, the original student I was working with had a family emergency. At that moment I immediately expected student participant numbers would be low at best. But within a day, Chrissy offered Alison the opportunity to help us, and Alison recruited more students than we originally expected. She did a remarkable job in a very short period.”
Photo: Starting time rain followed by 12 noon pelting hail was no match for the CleanScapes volunteers. Together they cleaned up miles of creekbank and roadsides for opening day fishing and festivities. In total, 62 volunteers collected almost 1, 500 lbs. of litter in 3 hours. In addition, and to help declining monarch butterfly numbers and in support of Ukraine, volunteers spread common milkweed and sunflower seeds on the creekbank. Milkweed seeds were donated by milkweedmonarchy.com and sunflower seeds from Chatham Run Feed Mill. For more photos from this event, click here.
Fishing Creek cleanup funding provided by the Clinton County Community Foundation and multi-year patrons Donald and Brenda Lysle.