August 2, 2009

Local KC groups host EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Summer of Service Kickoff
Kaw Point Park, Kansas City, KS
June 22, 2009

text by Vicki Richmond, photos by David Richter

This summer, President Obama is calling on Americans – young and old, from every background, all across this country – to participate in our nation’s recovery and renewal by serving in our communities. From June 22 to September 11, "United We Serve" will begin to engage citizens from coast to coast in addressing community needs with volunteer time.

The Missouri Department of Conservation contacted us and asked if we would be willing to lend a hand. The Friends of the Kaw would be bringing kayaks, Blue River Watershed Association would be doing water quality monitoring with students and the Missouri Department of Conservation would coordinate the day with EPA officials. It was our charge to bring the boats and get folks out to pick up trash.

We River Reliefers know service and met the request by bringing boats down to Kaw Point, at the place where Kansas City’s two biggest rivers meet, to host Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator Lisa Jackson as she kicked off the initiative just blocks from the EPA Region 7 Headquarters.

Our mission involves introducing people to the Missouri River – a river we all depend on but few have a personal relationship with. Show off the Missouri River to Lisa Jackson? What an honor!

We loaded the boats early and with the help of EPA staff and volunteers began picking up the trash that lines the Kansas River after recent high water. Administrator Jackson took the podium, reiterating the need for service and encouraging the lively crowd. Students met us at the boat ramp after studying the water closely, ready to haul the accumulated trash up the boat ramp and into the waiting truck.

Administrator Jackson donned gloves and began taking bag after bag of trash from the boats to the truck headed for the dumpster. She was genuine and approachable and seemed interested and impressed with our efforts and energy.

It was exciting to see these local watershed groups gather together to show the nation what we are working on here – to involve students and federal leaders together in a model project. Similar efforts are happening all across the nation, and we hope this national focus on service will help match interested volunteers with the work that needs to be done.

Special thanks to Michael Richmond, Bill Fessler, David Richter and Susie Burton McRoberts for pulling together at the last minute to pull this together!

Susie pilots the Hildy Harliner out onto the Missouri.

Folks from Blue River Watershed Association assist students with water quality monitoring right out on Kaw Point. Check out their posting on the event on the Missouri Stream Team Assistant blog:

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