If you haven’t heard of Project AWARE, it’s time to listen up. For the past fifteen years, the Iowa DNR has successfully implemented a week-long river trash cleanup that most would consider too much of a logistical nightmare to even attempt. This past week however, marked Project AWARE’s (A Water Awareness River Expedition) fifteenth birthday.

From July 10th to the 14th, over 500 people from all over the country, came together to paddle over 55 miles on the Cedar River, picking up literally tons of trash along the way. On just my two years having participated in AWARE, I’ve witnessed the group effort of digging out a speedboat from a sandbar, countless tires removed from the river bottom, and been up to my knees in river muck just to grab a single can or piece of plastic from the shoreline. It’s a dirty job, and although I’d like to say that someone has to do it, that’s just not true. People choose to do it and that has to be my favorite part of this event.

You might be asking what this has to do with Prairie Rivers of Iowa. The answer is what I just mentioned: bringing like-minded people together to protect Iowa’s natural resources. Being a steward for the environment is something that we all can play a part in, but not all of us choose to do. Events like Project AWARE and organizations like Prairie Rivers of Iowa however, can help to close that gap and to bring people together to strive for the common goal of environmental conservation.

If you’re interested in participating in Project AWARE next summer, be sure to visit the Iowa DNR website. Also, keep an eye out for more information on upcoming Prairie Rivers of Iowa events by visiting our website or facebook pages.

-Rosie Manzo, Outdoor Learning Environments Program Assistant

http://www.iowadnr.gov/Things-to-Do/Canoeing-Kayaking/Project-AWARE

http://www.prrcd.org

Photos courtesy of Iowa DNR