Sep 29th, 2023 - East Rutherford High School Takes Home Litter Bowl Trophy
Over 6,195 lbs of trash removed from Rutherford County public spaces
RUTHERFORD COUNTY, NC [Sep 29, 2023] – The Litter Bowl returned for its fourth annual run this September. A total of nine Rutherford County High Schools including homeschoolers participated in the Keep Rutherford County Beautiful (KRCB) competition to see who could pick up the most litter. The goal of the competition is to remove litter from our public spaces, including roadsides, parking lots, public parks, trails and campuses, while encouraging the next generation of environmental stewards.
The Litter Bowl ran from September 15th to September 25th, which corresponded with North Carolina Department of Transportation’s (NCDOT) Fall Litter Sweep initiative. The competition was not limited to students. Rutherford County citizens were also encouraged to join in and form litter pickup groups to show support of their favorite local high school while giving back to the community. This year, some rules changed to streamline the event. Rather than bringing the trash to campus, participants left collected litter on the roadsides for pick up.
The participating schools were Chase High School, East Rutherford High School, the Homeschoolers of Rutherford County, Lake Lure Classical Academy, R-S Central High School, Rutherford Early College High School, The Rutherford Opportunity Center, Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, and Trinity Christian School. “We were so excited to have both REaCH and homeschoolers participate this year for the first time,” said KRCB Executive Director, Jenna Bailey. “Every student needs to experience litter first hand.”
In first place, East Rutherford High School took home the trophy with 2,070 lbs. Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy, reigning ‘22 champions, put up a fight with a total of 1,275 lbs. R-S Central High School and Rutherford Opportunity Center tied for third place with 735 lbs each.
School Team Leaders: Amy Ross, Todd Whitley (East Rutherford High School); Amanda Byers, Daniela Byers, Stella Friedman, Lydia King (Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy); Aurora Beichner, Master Sergeant David Hernandez, Tami Myslinksi (RS Central High School); Suzanne Quinn (Rutherford Opportunity Center); Katherine Ash (Chase High School); Heather Roof (Rutherford Early College High School); Michelle Pate, Lacey Roach (Homeschoolers of Rutherford County)
Private pick-up groups stepped up to the plate in support of the schools and the county. Rutherford County Library picked up 105 lbs on Callahan Koon Road in Spindale. The Town of Forest City picked up 1,605 lbs from Forest City’s public spaces. Artifacturing picked up 225 lbs from East Court Street in Rutherfordton. Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority picked up 285 lbs from Coxe Road in Rutherfordton. The Lake Lure Lions Club picked up 105lbs near Lake Lure Classical Academy.
Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority having fun after rescuing a turtle in their pickup on Coxe Road in Rutherfordton
“We were very heartened to see volunteers form private pick-up groups,” said Clark Poole, KRCB board member. “We would like to see more people in the county involved next year. The Litter Bowl is about more than just litter - it’s about community pride. It’s about empowering our youth and leaders of tomorrow. It’s about doing something to help protect the environment. It’s about taking care of our home. Everyone who is able should participate. Together we could make a big impact on the litter problem in Rutherford County.” KRCB provided supply kits throughout the span of the Litter Bowl, readily available for pickup at Woodrow Jones Community Hall.
Participation in the Litter Bowl gives students eligibility to apply for KRCB’s Green Scholarship, awarded to two students each Spring. “We are so proud of the students and faculty who participated this year,” said Amber Saint Clair, KRCB committee member. “We were slightly disappointed at the overall lower levels of participation from the schools. We had 375 participants last year, and only 270 this year. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about giving back to the community, earn service hours and become eligible for the Green Scholarship. We hope that the schools who did not participate or put forth much effort change their tune next year for the sake of the students.”
The Litter Bowl competition would not have been possible without all of the volunteers who offered their time and efforts. The North Carolina Department of Transportation generously donated bags and collected the full bags from roadsides. KRCB Litter Committee volunteers Gabe Isaac (Chair), George Moyer (board member), Marian Moyer (committee member) and Allegra Lucas (committee member) built supply kits with safety vests, gloves, bags and pickers for each pick-up group. Jenna Bailey (Executive Director) and Shelley Roberts (committee member) delivered and picked up supply kits from each school. KRCB also received a grant from Keep America Beautiful that included supplies.
East Rutherford High School Champions with Faculty Representative, Todd Whitley, all smiles as they receive the Litter Bowl Trophy
Each year the Trophy is housed by the winning school, with their name and weight total added to a plaque on the base. KRCB Committee members Jenna Bailey, Taylor Hardin, and Allegra Lucas brought KRCB’s beloved mascot Roxi the Raccoon to reigning ‘22 champs Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy’s spirited pep rally, where Roxi attempted to take the trophy away from the TJCA mascot, the Gryphon in a friendly mock tussle. The Trophy was presented to East Rutherford High School by Keep Rutherford County Beautiful on Friday, September 29th in a small ceremony with KRCB Committee Members and participating students. “East Rutherford is honored to be this year's winner of the Litter Bowl,” said Todd Whitley, ERHS Litter Bowl Faculty Representative. “It was a group effort including the East High Environmental Club, student body, and the Town of Forest City. It is great to see everyone work together to make our community beautiful.”
In 2022, over 18,000 pounds of litter was collected by Litter Bowl participants. This year, the number was much lower, amounting to 6,165 pounds of litter removed from our public outdoor spaces. “We are seeing less litter overall,” said Matt Taylor, NCDOT. “We are experiencing low call volumes for the first time.” The lower amount of litter this year alludes to progress in KRCB’s litter initiative.
Although the Litter Bowl has come to a close, individuals can plan on participating in Keep Rutherford County Beautiful’s upcoming Spring Litter Sweep in April 2024.
Keep Rutherford County Beautiful began as an Earth Day litter pickup and has transformed into a movement throughout Rutherford County, North Carolina. Neighbors, industry leaders, business owners, schools and municipalities have joined forces to change the way we define community, leading programs and initiatives to propel Rutherford County's beautification forward by tackling the problems arising from our disposable economy. As of 2023, KRCB became an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, the nation’s largest community improvement organization. This milestone is a testament to the work the organization has put in since 2017 and the progress they have made. Together, we are taking action to love where we live, work and play.
For more information about KRCB, visit their website www.KeepRCNCBeautiful.org, Facebook page @KeepRCNCBeautiful, Instagram page @keeprcncbeautiful, or email @KeepRCNCBeautiful@RutherfordCountyNC.gov.