Iowa is lucky to have this group of volunteers cleaning its waterways. In what started as a group of about 25 people, project AWARE has now grown closer to 250 people. This group had been dedicated to cleaning Iowa's rivers and streams for 20 years. You wouldn't believe some of the garbage they've removed from Iowa's waterways.

According to Iowa Project AWARE, the nonprofit is "the state’s largest river cleanup event. The event educates participants while improving the health of Iowa’s rivers and streams."

Unsplash - Michael Niessl
Unsplash - Michael Niessl

Whether you enjoy using Iowa's waterways for fishing, canoeing, boating, or hunting, keeping Iowa's waterways clean is vital to their success.

According to KCRG, despite much of Iowa dealing with wet and rainy weather yesterday morning (July-12), project AWARE Volunteers threw on their raincoats and began their third day of cleanup on the Iowa River. Project AWARE has and will continue to paddle anywhere from 12-15 miles every day this week and clean up as much trash as they can find in the Iowa River.

The founder of Project AWARE is Brian Soenen and he mentioned some of the things this volunteer group has found over the years. He told KCRG,

There have been portable toilets, there have been bags of undergarments, bowling balls.

Who throws away a perfectly good bowling ball into a river...?

This year, Project AWARE is going to hit a milestone that frankly, they shouldn't have to hit. Brian Soenen told KCRG

We’re going to hit a million pounds of garbage removed from Iowa’s rivers this year.

Not everything that is found by Project AWARE heads straight to the landfill. They've done a fantastic job of recycling as much of their findings as possible. Biran told KCRG close to 80% of what they've found has been able to be recycled.

At the end of the day when we think it’s a river clean up when we clean up garbage, we might have a truck bed full of garbage at the most that goes into the hole in the ground at the end of the day. So of that 1,000,000 pounds, 800,000 has been recycled.

If you'd like to join Project AWARE in its mission, you can! No previous river cleanup experience is needed and neither is previous canoe experience. The group is open to all ages for people who enjoy spending time outside. Project AWARE "is made up of retirees, young adults, multi-generational families, youth groups, scout groups, and more."

The state of Iowa is extremely lucky to have this non-profit organization cleaning up the state of Iowa. This might be wishful thinking but hopefully, it takes Project AWARE a lot longer than 20 years to reach 2 million pounds of garbage.

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