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Up the creek

NORTH LIBERTY– Three tires, two rubber balls, one dead raccoon and lots of aluminum cans later, the Muddy Creek watershed is much cleaner.
One hundred-twenty North Central Jr. High seventh grade students donned their armor of safety goggles, sturdy shoes and purple shirts on April 22– Earth Day– to do battle against litter, invasive species and brush along the banks of Muddy Creek in North Liberty. This is the third annual Muddy Creek clean-up day for the school, part of the seventh grade’s science curriculum, as well as their on-going community involvement efforts and a continued commitment to keeping the area’s watershed clean and functional.
“North Central Jr. High as a school enjoys ways to get students involved with the community,” said North Central science teacher Lindsey Downes. “As part of 7th grade science, we learn about different ecosystems, ecology and different invasive species. For example, Garlic Mustard is the invasive species that we find the most when we are out for the day.”
Downes said the annual event is a good “volunteer opportunity for the students to help both the City of North Liberty and Coralville with river bank erosion and creek clean-up.” The students also did some water quality testing with IOWATER volunteer Dave Ratliff, heard about invasive plant species from Johnson County Conservation Department Naturalist Brad Friedhof, and visited with Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Lynette Siegley about river clean-ups.
Area businesses and local governments assist with the event, including staff and volunteers from Greenwise Lawn Care, Forevergreen Landscape and Nursery, the cities of North Liberty, Iowa City and Coralville, and JM Swank.
Seventh grader Erin Cook summed up the goals of the project on clean-up day.
“If we clean up around the watershed, then less stuff– like silt, chemicals and trash– will go into the creek and we’ll have cleaner water,” said Cook. “I know we are doing some good for the community, and it will all pay off in the end.”