By Jessie Dickson, Environmental Professional Resident

Have you ever wondered how much of an impact your actions can have on the planet? I know many, including myself, are often so worried about whether our small daily actions to help to environment are truly making a difference. I want to write this blog as not only a way to emphasize the work done at the River Round Up event this year but also a way to encourage readers that your small acts do make a difference.

I have always been passionate about water, both freshwater and marine habitats. Coming to The Dawes Arboretum, I knew I wanted to be able to work with freshwater environments in some way. I was raised in Licking County but had never heard of the River Round Up initiative nor did I know they did an annual county-wide event. I was thrilled to be a part of the event during my residency!

For those who are unaware, River Round Up is a yearly clean up of the Licking River and its tributaries. The River Round Up volunteers clean trash and other unnatural products out of our waterways so we can enjoy healthy ecosystems. The Arboretum’s Dutch Fork Stream is one of the many locations that is cleaned during this event.

This event was a huge success. We had more than 30 people of all ages show up to lend their time to cleaning the Dutch Fork stream. In this single Saturday morning, we were able to remove approximately 2,023 pounds of trash and approximately 1,300 pounds of metal from the site! In just three hours the volunteers had transformed the site.
As a first time River Round Up volunteer, I really wasn’t sure how much of an impact this event could have. I had my doubts about how much of a change such a small group of people could make. But I could quickly see that I was wrong. This event helped me realize that even if your actions are just a drop in a bucket, that drop still makes ripples and those ripples can be so important in inspiring others. This group of people made a visible and lasting impact on the environment. Picking up trash for just a few hours won’t save the oceans or the planet but it will improve the area you are focused on and having one ecosystem improved because one person took the time to do so is such an important thing to remember. For anyone questioning their efforts and questioning if they are truly able to make a difference, the answer is yes you can!

I consider myself lucky to have been a part of this event with such a dedicated group of volunteers. Being able to see the impact such few people can have in such a short amount of time is inspiring and I urge everyone to remember that while you alone may not feel you’ve made an impact, individual people doing small things will add up and make a big difference.

To learn more about River Round Up, please visit