By Lauren Wind

Early on the morning of August 28th, twenty IGC fellows and friends met in the dense fog at the Eggleston Community Park to take part in an epic “Fall into the New” New River cleanup endeavor. ReNew the New, a group comprised of multiple local NGOs, outfitters, local government officials, and concerned citizens, focuses on the stewardship of 37 miles of the New River that run through Giles County, VA. They sponsor two major river cleanup events each year. his event also included cleanup of New River miles winding throughout the valley in Montgomery Co, Pulaski Co, Floyd Co, and Radford.

In an effort to keep the New River clean and pristine, we were charged with pairing up in canoes or solo trips in kayaks to retrieve as much trash as we could fit in our vessels along a four mile stretch in Giles Co. Before we embarked on our journey, ReNew the New founder Ann Geotte spoke words of wisdom to us: “Do not be upset if you don’t get a tire… this isn’t an Easter egg hunt!” From that moment on, the challenge was upon us IGC Fellows to collect the most tires. And we did not disappoint!

In total we collected 18 tires, one sleeping bag and pillow set, four cans of unopened beers, dozens of empty cans, a table, and countless other items. Shout out to Stephen Plont, who deemed himself the winner by finding… a Porta-Potty within the first half-mile stretch of the river. It was all hands-on deck to pull most of these items out of the water, and some of us had to leave our safe and dry vessels to retrieve sunken tires and trash. Our efforts were rewarded with internal bragging rights to each other on what we found, soaking up sunny rays on the river, and a lunch and t-shirt following the event.

Please visit ReNew the New’s Volunteer page to learn more about future volunteer events; and to view the statistics on how much trash collectively was retrieved throughout “Fall into the New” event this fall.