Environmental club helps clean Kansas River

Kris Long, Sports Editor

The Manhattan High Environmental Club worked with Rotary Club, the Kansas Wildlife Association and Friends of Kaw Valley to clean car battery cases and other waste out of the Kansas River on Saturday. They used rented kayaks provided by Chris Culbertson from Rotary Club to hop from sandbar to sandbar collecting trash.

“It was kind of sad because there was so much trash that was stuck in the sand,” Environmental Club president Eszter Chikan, junior, said. “So we had to dig it up, and we made piles and then we had to put them into bags to be taken by a boat back to a dumpster where we started.”

Fifteen MHS students kayaked 11 miles to help with the effort. They found around 50 battery cases that had been buried in the sandbars after recent flooding, along with more typical pollution like glass. The other organizations involved have been cleaning the river annually for the past seven years, but this is the first time a Manhattan High organization has participated. 

“We’ve done projects in school and after school, we made [recycled] paper and stuff like that but this is the first big cleanup project that we were able to do,” Chikan said. “It’s just a great opportunity to actually get out there and do something, and I hope we can find other opportunities such as this one because I feel like it’s important to get high school students to see like how they can help the environment.”

Environmental Club relied on the help of the KWA, Friends of Kaw Valley and Rotary, along with help from sponsor Clancy Livingston to have the supplies and support to help with the annual river cleaning. 

“I was really grateful that someone offered to pay for our kayaks, because I don’t think we as a club would have been able to buy that,” Chikan said. “There was food provided and… all the equipment that we needed was provided for us, so we definitely would not have been able to do this by ourselves.”

The first chance to Environmental Club to get off school campus provided a fun experience for it’s members along with service to the community. 

“I think it was a really great bonding experience for anyone that came,” Environmental Club treasurer Jecca Park, junior, said. “And it was a really fun time while doing something really great and helpful.”

Currently, the club is working on selling Earth Day stickers to raise funds for future projects and securing grants to plant trees and change the inefficient fluorescent lighting in MHS classrooms to LED lighting.