Nicole Schnurbusch (left) and Hannah Wonderly (Submitted).

Hannah Wonderly and Nicole Schnurbusch are both seventh graders at Whiteaker Middle School that enjoy going to Wallace House Park and kayaking on the Willamette River.

However, during a particular trip in early-April, the two girls noticed the vast amount of trash that was on both sides of the river — as well as in the river.

“It was disgusting. There was trash everywhere,” Schnurbusch said. “We couldn’t go two steps without seeing a piece of garbage.”

But instead of just ignoring it, Schnurbusch and Wonderly decided to step up to make a difference.

After kayaking only a mile, the two middle schoolers were able to pick up nearly 13 pounds of broken bottles, rotten meat and other unpleasantries in the river.

It’s no secret that global warming in this country has been a hot topic among political pundits in recent years, and it has served as part of the motivation for these girls to try and help clean up their community. 

“I have been really interested in helping the environment because I’m really big on global warming,” Schnurbusch said. “In the future, I definitely want a job that helps (stop) global warming.”

Both Wonderly and Schnurbusch are also very conscious of the impact that excessive litter can have on animals and wildlife.  

“I really enjoy taking care of animals, and litter badly affects animals,” Wonderly said. “I enjoy picking up litter to make the environment a better place and I thought the river would be a good place to do that because there is a lot of trash there.”

But this is not just a one-time thing for Wonderly and Schnurbusch. The two girls plan to kayak the river once a week to pick up as much trash as they can. 

They also are in the process of doing global warming related service projects with Faith Lutheran Church. 

“We want to encourage people to get outside and pick up one piece of trash, because if everyone just can pick up one piece, we could all make a big difference,” Wonderly said.