June 22, 2021
Iowa Project AWARE is bringing families, friends and a cavalcade of educational programming to the lower and middle Raccoon River watershed July 11-16 with the return of this annual event. After a pause in 2020, N-Compass Inc. is busy preparing for hundreds of volunteers to gather in local parks for nightly camping and programming, catered meals, and days on the water removing trash and debris along the way.
Iowa Project AWARE, which stands for A Watershed Awareness River Expedition, is the state’s largest river cleanup event and includes daily educational programs to truly “grow awareness” of the myriad factors that contribute to the health of Iowa’s rivers and streams. This year, programs range from information on the early people of Iowa to physical science demonstrations of how freshwater systems function and the geology that supports it all.
The full extent of the cleanup spans more than 63 river miles over the course of a Monday-through-Friday paddling excursion. In the morning, locals can expect to see hundreds of people heading down to the river, and by mid-afternoon, the show tends to begin as people and canoes loaded with the day’s findings make their way to the ramp. There, a team of land-based assistants helps with sorting material for recycling, provides snacks and beverages for volunteers, and assists with shuttling everyone back to the campground for dinner and evening activities. Many of the sessions are already at capacity, but registration is still open for Friday.
Members of the general public are welcome (and encouraged) to attend evening programs. A full list of programs, speakers and related activities is available here.
Over the course of nearly two decades, thousands of volunteers from across the country and beyond have paddled 1,260 river miles of Iowa waters. Their efforts have removed 444 tons of trash, most of which also avoided Iowa landfills thanks to recycling and reclamation. We are excited to gather once again, especially after such a challenging year for so many people. We hope to see you on our way through too!
About the Author: Rebecca Kauten has participated in the annual river cleanup event known as Iowa Project AWARE since 2008. She currently serves as the Scientist in Residence for Iowa Lakeside Laboratory in Milford, Iowa.