MTSU students help clean campus, protect ground wa...

MTSU students help clean campus, protect ground water

MTSU freshmen Nicole Blount, at left, of Nashville and Michele Olivieri of Murfreesboro empty the trash they collected during the Oct. 10 Campus Cleanup Day, sponsored by the university’s Stormwater Program. MTSU Environmental Health and Safety staffers Shelia Knight, in red, and Amanda Sherlin, far right, coordinated the event, which drew about 30 student volunteers. (MTSU photos by News and Media Relations)

A group of MTSU students came together Oct. 10 to spruce up a section of campus while also protecting the community’s drinking water.

And, perhaps just as important, they learned the value of community service.

The MTSU Stormwater Program coordinated the effort, which attracted about 30 students to the east side of campus. The cleanup focused on grassy areas around the university’s detention ponds on Rutherford Boulevard, near Greek Row.

Shelia Knight, an environmental engineer in the MTSU Environmental Health and Safety Office, said many of the students participated through health and wellness classes or Greek organizations as part of community service requirements. Others participated simply out of a sense of responsibility to help keep the campus clean.

Knight said her office tries to host at least one cleanup per semester on campus and also hosts other similar events near streams across the city. During the Oct. 10 event, she and colleague Amanda Sherlin signed students up, doled out cleanup supplies and directed the volunteers to target areas.

From left, MTSU freshmen Rachel O’Steen of Union City, Paige Roach of South Fulton and Chelsy Floyd of Manchester pause while participating in the Campus Cleanup sponsored by MTSU’s Stormwater Program.

“We try to get out and let the kids know why it’s important to keep the water clean and what actually ends up in the water coming off of all of the parking lots on MTSU’s campus,” Knight said. She estimated that students would collect “a couple hundred pounds” of waste and debris by the end of the two-hour event.

MTSU works with the city of Murfreesboro to improve the quality of surface water by reducing the amount of pollutants in runoff water. Removing litter from parking lots and areas near detention ponds on campus is one way to do that.

Nicole Blount, a freshman from Nashville, and Michele Olivieri, a freshman from Murfreesboro, were among students who pitched in to make the event a success.

Blount explained her participation as “just helping the environment, cleaning up,” adding that she picked up “a whole lot of trash” during her hour of work.

She also had another important revelation.

“I won’t litter,” she said.

— Jimmy Hart (