Okatoma Creek cleanup day set for Sept. 18


The Center for Community and Civic Engagement at The University of Southern Mississippi will take students on a day-long trip down the Okatoma Creek on Friday, Sept. 18.

Students will travel to Seminary to pick up any trash from the creek, a popular outdoor attraction.

Every semester, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement and the United States Department of Agriculture organize the trip.

“Unfortunately, several individuals that canoe or kayak down the Okatoma litter and leave trash everywhere, leaving a lasting human imprint on the creek and its surroundings,” said Harry Wadsworth, graduate assistant in the Center for Community and Civic Engagement. “This is a wonderful opportunity, because it helps students not only give back to the community, but conserve one of the most beautiful creeks in Mississippi.”

Students will either be canoeing or kayaking down the river, picking up trash along the way.

“It can really take some time, because sometimes there is so much trash that we need to stop on the small shores to collect it,” Wadsworth said.

Kray Scully, a counseling psychology graduate who will attend the cleanup, shared her thoughts as well.

“By cleaning up the Okatoma, we are increasing the quality of life for all wildlife in that area,” Scully said. “Plus, it improves the experience for everyone that goes camping out there.”

Each student will have a bag for trash. At the halfway point, they will drop off the trash with a ranger and continue cleaning with more bags.

Sign-up is closed for the upcoming trip as the final number ofattendeeshasbeenconfirmed. The next opportunity will be in late spring once the warm temperatures kick in.

Those attending Friday will meet in the Hub and carpool to Seminary. They will then take buses to a drop-off point, and ride back down the river, picking up trash.

In the past, the group has completed cleaning the creek by 3:30 p.m. and returned to campus by 5 p.m. The center is expecting between 15 and 20 students this year. Free lunch will be provided on the trip, scheduled from 8 a.m. to the late afternoon.