Volunteers From Kean & Union County Go Down To The River—To Clean

UNION COUNTY—While it may have looked like work, walking in the riverbed with her high rubber boots, picking up dozens and dozens of bottles and cans, as far as Kean University junior Linda Agbontane was concerned, it was a day of fun.

“You could do this for extra credit, but I’ve come to love it,” said Agbontane, a biology/pre-med major. “I especially love being down in the river.”


Agbontane, a junior, was one of more than 50 volunteers who helped remove more than 400 bottles and cans, 300-plus plastic bags, fence posts, car tires and shopping carts dumped along a section of the Elizabeth River where it passes through the University’s East Campus.

Kean and Union County partnered for the Earth Week clean-up that saw more than 500 pounds of garbage carted away by the end of the day, according to Steve Hruby, an AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador working with the county parks department.

Roughly 45 bags were collected over the span of the cleanup, of which five bags were comprised of recyclable items, Hruby said.  Some items were too large to be bagged, he said, noting that the volunteers found enough discarded fence posts to erect a new fence.

Among the other items removed from the river and surrounding park land were 2 ½ shopping carts, half of a 55-gallon drum, part of a television, a chair, a volleyball net, and much more.

“Overall the cleanup was very successful,” Hruby said.  “Everyone had fun, the weather was perfect, and we all helped to make quite an impact.  I especially liked that we collected five bags of recyclables.”

SO MUCH GARBAGE…the bag ripped.  Kean University freshman Raul Salas transfers garbage to a new bag held by biology Professor Daniela Shebitz, who coordinated the University’s side of the joint project.  To mark Earth Week, volunteers from Kean and Union County devoted a day to cleaning up a portion of the Elizabeth River and surrounding parkland that runs through the University’s East Campus.

SEARCHING FOR SUNKEN LITTER…volunteers walked a section of the Elizabeth River where it passes through Kean University’s East Campus.  By the end of the day, they had hauled out more than 400 bottles and cans.  Steve Hruby, left, an AmeriCorps NJ Watershed Ambassador working with the Union County parks department, helped coordinate the clean-up with Kean University.  Hruby went off to search the river in one direction while volunteer Ashley Finke set off upstream.

ONE LESS SHOPPING CART…in the Elizabeth River.  Kean University biology majors Dana D’Angelo, left, of Bayonne, and Sarah Yearwood, center, of Rahway, carry one side of an old rusted shopping cart while Raul Salas, of Union, a freshman international business major, takes the handle as they bring it to the growing pile of garbage that volunteers from the University and Union County cleared from a section of the river and surrounding parkland where it passes through Kean’s East Campus.

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