Wednesday, October 8, 1997

Volunteers work to clean up Columbia

Published in the Columbia Missourian

Rock Bridge High School students and State Farm Insurance employees donned orange safety vests and combed the sides of South Providence Road for trash. "What is that?" Julia Slaughter asked.

"Something dead. Don't touch it," responded fellow student Gretchen Staley. After a full day of work at the office or at the high school, about 20 volunteers - half from the high school's Student Environmental Coalition and half from State Farm - filled about 20 brightly colored garbage bags. Most of it was common trash, paper, plastic and cardboard, but volunteers also found hairspray bottles, a car window frame and pieces of automobile engines.

"I expected a little more trash," said Greg Crawford, a State Farm auto claims agent.

Tuesday's cleanup, which was part of the Partners in Education relationship between State Farm and Rock Bridge, took less than an hour.

"It's a great partnership," said State Farm's Karen Butcher, who got release time from her office to participate in the cleanup.

Butcher mentioned other events that involve her employer and the high school, such as "pie day," when high school students bake pies which are delivered to the State Farm offices for the employees to enjoy. State Farm workers also volunteer at high school track meets and debates and host job shadowing days. In addition to two highway cleanups a year, the student coalition performs the everyday recycling duties at Rock Bridge, such as collecting the recyclables every week.

While cleaning up, Luker's sharp eyes spotted a walking stick, an insect which has perfected the art of camouflage in wooded areas. It provided a nice break from the trash, and a reminder of why the cleanup happens.