By Jakob Kounkel Staff Writer for the Benton County News
FOLEY- To many Americans, Earth Day is often a reminder that we need to have an eye toward the environment. Prior to 1970, before a senator from Wisconsin fought back against environmental degradation, the smell of polluted air was symbolic of a roaring economy. Now, 50 years later, families are taking on environmental protectionism on an individual level, teaching their kids how to cultivate and preserve a planet booming with life.
Two area families spearheaded conservation efforts by cleaning up trash alongside the roads of their neighbors. Both Sherry Pohlkamp with her kids Austin, 8, and Alayna, 6, and Christina Timpe with three of her kids, James, 8, Lyla, 7, and Juliana 4, took it upon themselves to demonstrate what good stewards of the Earth are capable of.
"I figured since it was Earth Day, it would be a good day to teach the kids to pick up trash and not litter," Pohlkamp said. "I’m hoping we can make this a yearly thing."
Pohlkamp who lives a few miles north of Foley in Granite Ledge Township, wanted to instill an extra sense of environmentalism than the simple observation of Earth Day. Timpe, who lives in Foley, had the same thought. Their children also had an assignment specific to Earth Day where they needed to do something good for the Earth.
Both mothers said their children enjoyed the work, running ahead to collect big pieces of garbage before their siblings could get it. Pohlkamp said it was fun to get out and do something meaningful for the planet but was surprised by the amount of trash.
"We were all sore the next day," Pohlkamp said, adding that she had to pull a wagon behind their four-wheeler for both sides of the 1 mile stretch of road they cleaned because of the amount of trash.
Timpe’s kids had a similar go of it - tired but proud of what they had accomplished. "They were really tired at the end," Timpe said. "I think it was enjoyable for all of them. They were just proud of themselves for what they did."
Timpe’s daughter, Lyla, who celebrated her birthday April 27, thought Mother Nature was rewarding her conservation efforts by giving her a birthday full of sunshine and warm weather.
"I think it’s good to have a day to recognize and think about what we can do extra as citizens, but I think every day is kind of like Earth Day because we should be constantly aware of what we’re doing to the planet," Timpe said.
Timpe said cleaning up garbage is a reactive way to clean up the environment, not proactive, but still said it is a good lesson for her kids of what they can do individually to make sure there are fewer families feeling like they have to go out and clean other people’s trash.
Between the Pohlkamps and the Timpe’s, both families shared the sentiment that cleaning up the Earth is important for sustainability and quality of life.