Chuck Denney-Narrator (UT Institute of Agriculture)
There’s mankind’s debris, and then there’s nature’s debris. Either way it blocks access, views and potentially wildlife habitat along this waterway – Knoxville’s Third Creek which circles the UT Ag campus and flows into the Tennessee River. These are students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Today they’re collecting trash and removing invasive plant species like privet and honeysuckle that clog the creek banks.

Andrew Lambert (UTIA Senior)
“We’re getting rid of some of the garbage and dead woody stuff as well. So it’s going to look a lot prettier too.”

Chuck Denney
Lambert is a graduating senior and so is Biosystems Engineering student Matt Menachery. He hates to see trash in the water or along the shore lines.

Matt Menachery (UTIA Senior)
“Frankly that’s my drinking water. I’m a resident of Knoxville, so it’s very important to keep it all clean.”

Chuck Denney
Matt is joined by sophomore animal science major Kendra Flynn, whose dad taught her the importance of caring for our environment.

Kendra Flynn (UTIA Sophomore)
“He’s always been against littering, and he always has me go out and help him pick up liter along the road in front of our house. So it’s always been really important, and this is just another way for me to help.”

Chuck Denney
While the students had a busy day – Third Creek and the big river aren’t nearly as bad liter-wise as just a few years ago. Several river rescue projects have had an impact, and literally tons of trash is gone now that used to be under or near the water. Third Creek is a pretty place for a bike ride or run or to wet a line. But downtown creeks are always a challenge to keep clean.

Dr. Joanne Logan (UT Institute of Agriculture)
“It’s hard in the urban environment because you have so much of this hardscape. You’ve got all the storm water, the flashiness of the streams. You’ve got the litter.”

Chuck Denney
Dr. Joanne Logan is a UT climatologist who teaches a Ag campus class called Water and Civilization, about how society deals with water supply issues. Several of her students were part of the cleanup.

Dr. Joanne Logan
“One of the things we try to teach them is citizen involvement, citizen engagement, taking ownership for the watershed that you live in.”

Chuck Denney
Soon there are bags of collected trash, and a big pile of brush to discard. New species will be planted here, including some weeping willows for shade. But for now Third Creek is a much cleaner place, and all because of a volunteer effort to take back the landscape.


NOTE: Several of these same UT AG students are also involved in landscaping work on other parts of campus – and a university-wide recycling program