Soldotna Montessori Charter School students gathered at Soldotna Creek Park on Friday to lead the annual Kenai River Spring Cleanup.
The kids volunteered for the program, which is a collaborative effort between the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Alaska State Parks, Kenai River Professional Guides Association, City of Soldotna, Alaska Fishing with Mark and Cindy Glassmaker and Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Ben Mohr, the executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, said the event is one he looks forward to every year. He was overseeing the elementary students at Soldotna Creek Park on Friday.
The cleanup, Mohr said, is a way to teach kids about the importance of conserving the Kenai River habitat.
“Everything that happens here is because of the river,” he said.
The Kenai River Sportfishing Association is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the sustainability of the river, focusing on conservation and sustainability efforts.
Around 350 kids across the central peninsula signed up to volunteer for this year’s cleanup, which encompassed six different locations along the Kenai River.
The students filled bright yellow bags with refuse, then loaded them into the back of a flatbed truck to be hauled to the landfill.
Rickey Gease, director of the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Recreation, made the trip to Soldotna from Anchorage to “lend support to the program.”
Gease said on Friday that the cleanup is a great opportunity to teach the kids about stewardship and the Kenai River habitat.
Some years, Gease said, up to 2,000 pounds of waste is collected by the kids.
Jennifer Hubbard has been a teacher at the Soldotna Montessori Charter School for eight years, and has participated in the Kenai River Spring Cleanup.
She said on Friday that she teaches her students about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling while she’s out cleaning the park.
“Anything to get outside and in the fresh air,” Hubbard said.