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The Scarlet & Black

Green living event to clean water, soil


Grinnell College is joining the Poweshiek County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and Imagine Grinnell to collaborate on a Green Living and Creek Cleanup event, promoting environmentalism. The event is being organized by Mindy Sieck, district coordinator at SWCD and by Rich Dana, director at Imagine Grinnell.   

Sieck was recently awarded the Circle of Excellence award by the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance for her contributions to improving water quality. 

“I was surprised and happy [about receiving the award],” Sieck said. “I know there’s a lot of other watershed coordinators in the state that are doing great work.”

The Creek Cleanup and Sustainable Living events have historically been separate, but last year SWCD and Imagine Grinnell, which had previously organized the two events  respectively, decided to combine the events into one Green Living event. It will be held at Summer Street Park on April 21. 

“We have it at Summer Street Park because I’m a watershed coordinator, and I’m working on making improvements to the Little Bear Creek watershed,” Sieck said. “And Little Bear Creek starts there … at the park.”

The event will provide information on things that landowners can do in urban settings or on farms to improve the health of soil and water, according to Sieck. 

It is especially important to the organizers to help preserve Little Bear Creek. 

“We want to raise awareness within the community of environmental issues that effect everybody in the area,” Dana said. “The Little Bear Creek watershed is here. Our drinking water comes from it, our rainwater runs off into the Little Bear Creek, it’s sort of the heart of the water system in our area. And a lot of people aren’t really aware of how much that is endangered by agricultural runoff, wastewater and then even things like, washing your car, things like that.”

Sieck said that this year, she would like to place more emphasis on discussing soil health with land owners, and in particular, no-till agriculture and cover crops. Sieck also mentioned that she is working on a project with Assistant Professor Andrew Graham, Chemistry, on using a bioreactor that removes contaminants like nitrate and phosphate from the water. 

The event will also feature information on a broader range of topics. “We’ll have some more emphasis on local food,” Dana said.

Sieck mentioned that athough she is not completely certain of the effectiveness of the event in spreading environmental awareness, she hopes that it will be helpful. She noted that there were several people who reached out to her to ask additional questions following the event. 

Dana referred to using the event’s attendance to measure its success.

“It’s a popular event, we usually have a big turnout,” Dana said.  He claimed that turnout has been as high as 100 people in the past. The event will take place on April 21.

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