The Trash Bowl returned, at the height of football season! Organizers were excited to see more participation and more trash collected. The Trash Bowl is a Keep Rutherford County Beautiful (KRCB) event and is a friendly competition among county high schools to see which school can pick up the most trash off roadsides, parking lots, around campus and other public spaces where there is trash that hasn't been properly disposed of.
The 2021 Trash Bowl began September 11 and ran through September 25.
"We wanted it to include three weekends, to give the students more opportunity for trash pick-up," said Jess Kerr, chair of the KRCB Litter Sub-Committee. The community was also able to participate, Kerr says, by collecting trash in support of their favorite school.
"We are grateful for all our community partners that make this event possible." Jenna Bailey, chair of the Education & Marketing Sub-Committee, said. "Republic Waste Management contributes the bins and weighs them, and the NC Department of Transportation provides heavy duty bags. The trophy was created by Jordan Jackson of Night Owl Ironworks in Rutherfordton. He is a winner of the History Channel's 'Forged in Fire' competition. Tri-City Laser donated the trophy's base and donates the plaque bearing the winning school's name each year. We could not put this event together without their help."
After Republic Waste Management placed specially marked blue collection bins at each participating school, along with instructions, school teams and community teams supporting the schools placed trash in the bins using the bags provided by the NCDOT. With an amazing 1,880 pounds of litter collected, Lake Lure Classical Academy (LLCA) is the 2021 Trash Bowl Champion.
"We are delighted to participate in an activity that engages our students as stewards of the environment and keeps our beautiful county clean." Michael Smith, Assistant Principal of LLCA High School said.
The participating high schools were Chase, East Rutherford, Lake Lure Classical Academy, R-S Central, and Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy. Together, the five schools picked up 6,160 pounds of litter. Coming in second place was Chase with 1,700 pounds of litter, and in a close third is RS Central with 1,620 pounds. The trophy is rotating and will remain at LLCA until the next Trash Bowl competition, expected in Fall 2022.
Kerr led the Rutherford Outdoor Coalition in a community litter sweep of the Broad River, picking up hundreds of cans, shoes, tires, a chair, and even a cell phone. The next week Kerr was back at work, taking a group to the Thermal Belt Rail Trail. Eight bags of trash were removed from the TBRT, including hundreds of cigarette butts. In coordination with the NCDOT Fall Litter Sweep, this period is also when other litter sweeps are happening across the state.
Don Cason, chair of KRCB and Chair of the Policy Sub-Committee, who led a group from the Tourism and Development Authority in a pick up at Coxe and Union Road to Cleghorn, says cleaning trash off the roadsides is critical, but education and changing the way people think about litter is also vital.
"Events like Trash Bowl are extremely important," Cason emphasized. "It is critical to involve our local youth and raise their awareness. It encourages them to take pride in where they live. It shows them how they can make a difference in keeping our towns and our county beautiful. It is also a fun event that students can do together."
Each year, KRCB gives a $1,200 scholarship to a graduating senior. Kerr remarks that participation in the Trash Bowl is a requirement to be considered for the scholarship. Students can also count the time they spent picking up litter as community service hours for other scholarships.
"I am excited," Kerr added. "We beat the last Trash Bowl total by over 2,000 pounds this year."
Although the 2021 Trash Bowl is over, students and the community can still do independent sweeps, Bailey noted, and students can still earn community service hours by participating in KRCB events throughout the year.
Jenna Bailey- Artifacturing
Jeremy Bradley- Chase High School
Priscilla Budzinski- East Rutherford High School
Michael Smith- Lake Lure Classical Academy
Todd Lattimore- Lake Lure Classical Academy
Tamara Black- R-S Central High School
Master Sergeant David Hernandez- RS Central High School
Tami Myslinkski- R-S Central High School
Hunter Adams- RS Central High School
Don Cason- Rutherford County Tourism Development Authority
Jess Kerr- Rutherford Outdoor Coalition
Kimberly Lloyd- Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy
Autumn Edwards- Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy
Chasity McCraw- Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy
Scott Webber- Town of Spindale
Clint Ingle- Town of Rutherfordton Police Department