Seventeen students and four teachers from Harker’s upper school joined about 40 other concerned citizens to remove litter from San Jose’s Guadalupe River Trail on Oct. 15.
Armed with heavy gloves, litter sticks and garbage bags, workers started the cleanup at the Coleman Avenue intersection of the trail and continued northwestward to the Taylor Street overpass.
Ricky Davis, volunteer coordinator of the Guadalupe River Park Conservancy, estimated 2,000 pounds of garbage were gathered on that Saturday morning. AP Environmental Science teacher Jeff Sutton noted that the next day’s rainstorm would have washed much of that trash into the San Francisco Bay about 8 miles north had it not been collected.
The cleanup tackled one of the most heavily used portions of the trail adjacent to the Guadalupe River Park, which includes the Heritage Rose Garden and Historic Orchard. Students learned firsthand the difficulties of maintaining valuable green space amid urban centers. Despite the obstacles, Christine Tang, grade 9, thinks such work is necessary. Parks and trails “give us a little piece of nature where we can relax and stop off to breathe in fresh air,” she observed.
Harker teams divided cleanup efforts on both sides of the trail, some veering west toward the large city park and others traveling on the east side of the running path near the river’s edge. Both groups encountered debris left by trail users as well as San Jose’s homeless population. As such, the volunteer effort was about more than just litter. Regarding her work collecting trash from no-longer-occupied homeless camps, Green Team vice president Satchi Thockchom commented that non-homeless “produce just as much if not more waste than the homeless people. We just have the fortune of taking out the trash every week and never having to deal with it again.”
Last week’s work was the first of four community service opportunities coordinated by the Green Team, the upper school environmental club, and activities coordinator Kerry Enzensperger. Upcoming efforts will include planting trees with Our City Trees on Nov. 12 and maintaining native plant species at Don Edward National Wildlife Refuge on Feb. 25.