CMS Environmentalists: Keeping the JIG Clean

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CHAMBERSBURG — It was a typical spring day last weekend when about a dozen Chambersburg Area Career Magnet School students stepped into the frigid waters of the Conococheague Creek not far from their school.

Their goal was to clean a mile-long stretch of the creek often referred to as the JIG.

It was the second time members of the CMS Environmental Club would clean that part of the creek since adopting it as part of the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful initiative.

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Created by CMS teachers Jennifer Kissel, Mary Jo Foy and Nina King last summer, the club has about 35 members.

CMS has a strong science department with a few environmental-related courses (Biology, Environmental Science, AP Biology), biology teacher King said.

Some students joined the new club because they had a positive experience in the classroom. Others joined because they are active in outdoor factors such as agriculture, hunting, and hiking. Still others were attracted to the club for their interest in recycling.

A Unique Group of Students

Organizers said both cleanups had “amazing” results.

“So we have a very unique group of students who bring so many different ideas to the table. For this, we are fortunate and are able to get a large number of volunteers for activities such as the cleanup.”

Nina King

The group collected enough glass and plastic bottles, metal, styrofoam and other materials to fill eight 32-gallon bins.

They also pulled two tires out of the stream, one still on a rusted rim.

Mother Goose Sitting on Nest, Surrounded by Trash

King said perhaps the saddest thing they encountered that day was a goose trying to hatch her eggs while sitting on a nest surrounded by trash.

The group nicknamed her Mother Goose, and like most mothers, she was ready to fight to defend her nest and her (potential) offspring.

“We didn’t want to disturb the mother, so a lot had to be left behind,” King said. “I hope our pictures will bring a bigger awareness of the impact pollution and littering has on wildlife.”

This section of the creek has an “island” where much debris floating downstream is deposited, but other debris is deliberately thrown into space in trees that have been hollowed out at their base, according to Kissel.

Treating Nature as a Trash Can

“People treat these trees/stumps as trash cans,” she said.

She called the cleanup effort “a dirty job” but said the teens who volunteered finished the task satisfied, even though wet, muddy and tired.

“I’m so proud of the kids that participate,” Kissel said.

Last weekend’s cleanup marked the second such event this school year. Club members collected a similar amount of trash from the same section of the creek last fall.

Minus their encounter with Mother Goose, of course.

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