Students from SIUE TRiO picked up trash along the Mississippi River during their participation with the Swarovski Waterschool, which is housed at NGRREC.

ALTON – Lewis and Clark Community College’s National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠) will host a Coffee and Cleanup event this month as part of the 1 Mississippi River Days of Action Initiative.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon, Thursday, June 15, at the NGRREC Field Station, located at 1 Confluence Way, East Alton, Illinois.

All are welcome to join for free coffee and bagels and to learn about the Mississippi River Plastic Pollution Initiative, a community science project aimed at tracking trash in the Mississippi River watershed using the Marine Debris Tracker app.

Community Ecologist Anthony Dell will give a brief overview of his research, which focuses on microplastics found in rivers. Microplastics come from plastic litter and trash that degrade over time into microscopic pieces and exist in water sources, especially near more populated areas. Microplastics are a growing concern as they become more prevalent in drinking sources, aquatic animals (including the ones we eat), and water used for irrigation.

Microplastics can be managed by reducing the amount of trash that enters the water system. Citizens can become more aware of where they throw their trash as well as make more of an effort to pick up trash they see littering the river shore and nearby walkways and roads.

“Keeping our water clean for drinking, recreation, fishing, and agriculture will be a group effort, so be sure to spread the word and bring your friends and family,” said Interim Education Director and Swarovski Waterschool Coordinator Jen Mandeville.

After breakfast, participants will head to the river for a watershed clean up to see how many pounds of debris can be prevented from entering the river. 

Prizes will be awarded for the most trash picked up!

Event Schedule

  • 9-9:15 a.m.: Coffee, Bagels, and Sign-in
  • 9:15 -10 a.m.: Ice Breaker, Plastic Trivia Game
  • 10-10:30 a.m.: Tony Dell's Remarks (microplastics/the inspiration behind his research & 5-10 min. Q&A)
  • 10:30-11 a.m.: Marine Debris Tracker Training
  • 11 a.m. – Noon: Watershed Cleanup

National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC℠)

Founded in 2002 as a collaborative partnership between the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Lewis and Clark Community College, NGRREC is dedicated to the study of great river systems and the communities that use them. The center aspires to be a leader in scholarly research, education, and outreach related to the interconnectedness of large rivers, their floodplains, watersheds, and their associated communities.