In honor of Earth Month, brave go-getters from our EPIC Creative team joined Milwaukee River Keepers to get down and dirty in the Menomonee River and help clean up our parks and water system. Here’s some more information on what we did and how you can get involved, too.
History of the River Keepers
Milwaukee River Keepers is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving the water quality, wildlife habitats, and land in the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic River Watersheds. EPIC was honored to start a new tradition on the golden birthday of Milwaukee River Keeper’s Annual Spring Cleanup. This was their 22nd anniversary for the cleanup and it happened on the 22nd of April.
Where We Made a Difference
On the Milwaukee River Keepers website, they had a map that showed over 50 cleanup locations from South Milwaukee all they way up to Kewaskum. Each spot was marked by the level of “filthiness”, level three being the filthiest. The EPIC team wanted a challenge, so they chose to clean a level three spot at Rotary Park in Menomonee Falls.
Gettin’ Down & Dirty
On Saturday April 22nd, our team met at Rotary Park to check-in and pick out our gloves and trash bags. Milwaukee River Keepers generously provided food and supplies for the clean up, so it was up to the teams to bring a positive attitude and manpower! After stocking up on tea and granola bars, we were ready for the water.
The Milwaukee River Keepers volunteers sent our EPIC team to a newly developed path off the Menomonee River that had never been cleaned before. We didn’t know what to expect, so we geared up for the worst. As we drove closer to the spot located off of Mill Rd. just east of Lilly Rd., we drove through some very nicely kept neighborhoods. Once we got to the river, we were pleasantly surprised to find the neighbors had so kindly been keeping the pathway clean. Our biggest challenge was finding trash! If that was our number one problem, we were having a really good Earth Day.
Right away, HR Manager Lisa Pence pulled up her boots and jumped into a beaver dam to pick out some plastic bottles and other trash stuck in the little critters’ house. Once Lisa jumped in, Project Manager Joe Schultz and a friend Michael Rankin walked along the rocks to find the most bizarre item of the day for our group – a Trek bike hidden under a bridge covered in mud… there was a lot of graffiti on the walls, so we figured this must have been the artist’s escape plan.
Our team split up to cover more ground. Social Media Coordinator Mason Howard teamed up with Project Manager Mary Hacker and her boyfriend Michael Rankin to rid the “city” streets of trash. All trash was to be left on the side of the road for the city to pick-up. And we collected all of the recyclables in a separate bag to bring back to our site for a mass recycling stop.
What did we find?
- Beer bottles and cans
- Cigarette butts
- Plastic bags
- Cardboard boxes
- Chip and fast food bags
- Candy wrappers
- Half of a car tire
After two hours in the river, each member of the EPIC team collected one 33-gallon trash bag per person. We had a team of 6 people, so we removed about 200 gallons of trash from the Menomonee Falls community!
Prizes were awarded for the most interesting/bizarre item collected. We submitted our trek bike with confidence. And shockingly, we did not win. The winner was a bottle from the 1950’s. Must’ve been a fancy bottle!
EPIC Goes Green
Overall, our EPIC team is proud to have given back to Mother Nature by removing trash and letting her beauty shine through. We are honored to support our communities, take care of the water we drink, and join together for a good cause. This is definitely a start of a great tradition.