Metro’s “One World One Water” campaign has spilled into many campus projects and organizations this year, the most recent being Auraria’s third annual Roadrunners Give Back Day April 21.
In the past, Roadrunners Give Back Day was organized outside of Metro and in partnership with Comcast for their annual Comcast Cares Day, which began in 2001.
Metro took over planning the event for its students this year by appointing new director of special events in Student Activities, Brooke Dilling, to tailor the project to more campus-specific goals. Dilling and her committee choose to tie the project to the OWOW campaign to commend the opening of Metro’s new OWOW Center for Urban Water Education and Stewardship.
“We reached out to a variety of community agencies that have a focus on water to see if they had any projects that we could partner with,” Dilling said. “Some of the direction came from Tom Ceck, director of One World One Water here in Denver.”
Ceck got Metro involved in The Greenway Foundation’s national trash inventory campaign, which several independent organizations participated in April 21 in Confluence Park and the South Platte River in Englewood.
“You literally pick up the trash while someone is recording how much trash is in different places along the river,” said Erika Church, assistant director for Metro’s OWOW center. “The idea is to figure out where people are hanging out and where there may need to be more cleanup.”
Volunteers combed the banks of the river, picking up anything inorganic and recording what it was, how much of it was found and where the greatest concentration of pollution was found.
“For example, if they find that the majority of refuse they pull out is cigarette butts along the river and in the water, they would target their marketing toward smokers in that area,” Dilling said.
Alicia Hamilton is the Colorado state coordinator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s trash collection project. She has worked on the campaign for the past three years and was in Confluence Park recording collected debris April 21 with a group of volunteers from the Downtown Aquarium-Denver, the Deep Blue Sea Foundation and the Ocean Conservancy in Washington D.C.
“[The records] go into a data collection report, which allows the EPA to track what kind of activity is leading to what kind of debris,” Hamilton said. “For Colorado, they’re able to identify that a lot of the debris that makes its way into waterways is from recreation.
Approximately 200 Metro students were split into three site groups, two along the river and one onsite at Auraria doing general landscape. According to Church, the most popular projects for students were cleaning the rivers.
“We just wanted to help out, it doesn’t really matter what we do,” said Metro junior Canaan Lee, who was doing landscape work around campus with his girlfriend and sister. “I wanted to give back to the school because it’s given me so much and I wanted to show my gratitude.”