College Creek Cleanup 2015!

College Creek runs right through the heart of our beloved Iowa State University campus. It flows past Lied Recreational Center, the Memorial Union, and then dives under Lincoln way and continues to meander through campus. It is a central component to our thriving ecosystem and watershed here in Ames and is home to a variety of species of turtle, tadpoles, fish, insects, birds as well as a few mammals.

Sadly, each year, College Creek acts as a catch-all point for hundreds of plastic bags, empty bottles and many other items that not only pollute the water, but also the habitat surrounding the creek.

After seeing the impacts, an ISU student decided, seven years ago, to do something about it and founded the annual College Creek Cleanup event. Celebrating seven years, this year’s event took place on July 18th.


Thanks to 35 passionate, hard working, and dedicated volunteers, The Office of Sustainability was once again able to coordinate a cleanup and collect hundreds of pounds of trash from College Creek and its banks; and some of the items pulled from the creek were unimaginable.

Volunteers split up into teams and cleaned the area of the creek behind Lied Recreational Center and the area of the creek from the Memorial Union to Lincoln Way. Before lunch, the team fished out:

  • A hammer
  • Rusty wire fencing
  • A one-dollar bill
  • A 5 foot metal rail
  • A folding char
  • A measuring tape
  • Bottles and cans
  • Plastic bags
  • Cigarette butts

IMG_8547    IMG_8359

Seeing the satisfaction on the volunteer’s faces as they placed their individual trash contribution to the giant pile of trash bags was the most rewarding part of the experience. Watching their faces as they triumphantly realized that they had helped make a difference in their community is what volunteer events are all about.

Not only did we collect hundreds of pounds of trash, clean up a vital part of our community’s ecosystem, but we brought together a group of people that truly felt the meaning of community and a sense of pride knowing they had made a difference that day.


On top of the generous support of local businesses, many different departments within Iowa State also expressed amazing support. Additional faculty and staff volunteered their time to complete cleanup of the creek section flowing through the campus arboretum on July 11th.

Joining them were 30 George Washington Carver Scholars, a group of visiting students from across the country. These volunteers each dedicated an additional 4 hours of service to help our cause and make an even farther-reaching difference for the community.


The most wonderful aspect of this event is the community aspect to the cleanup. Not only did we bring individuals from around the community together to support a great cause, local businesses and Iowa State faculty also exhibited an overwhelming amount of support towards our cause.

We had over 12 local businesses donate an incredible amount of door prizes, food, and other supplies that were essential to the cleanup’s success. It was absolutely amazing to see the entire community express concern and care for College Creek and preserving our campus ecosystem.

For more of an inside look at this year’s event and to be the first to know about our 8th Annual College Creek Cleanup in 2016, connect to our Facebook Page here!

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