College Creek Clean up volunteers in action.


College Creek Cleanup

In recognition of National Rivers Month in June, the Live Green! Initiative and Keep Iowa State Beautiful team up with Facilities Planning and Management for the annual College Creek Cleanup. College Creek is the main waterway found throughout campus, often becoming ground zero for numerous pounds of trash. In an effort to keep this waterway clean, volunteers from both campus (students, faculty and staff) and the Ames community walk the creek and its surrounding banks, filling bags of trash along the way. This event brings together individuals from all walks of life, melding an environmentally-minded activity into a socially-worthwhile volunteer opportunity!


2024 College Creek Cleanup was held Saturday, June 22nd. 


BEHIND THE SCENES: How College Creek Cleanup Came to Be

Meet Shannon Draayer, College Creek Cleanup Event Creator

Shannon Dryer and Dog on a sandy beach.  

How and why did you come up with the College Creek Cleanup event?

After graduating, I spent the summer of 2009 as an AmeriCorps intern with Live Green!. The Live Green! Initiative was relatively new, and Merry Rankin had recently been named the first-ever Director of Sustainability at Iowa State University. I have always been passionate about living green and reducing my impact on the environment, so this was a perfect opportunity for me. I was able to work on interesting and fun projects and was glad to have this experience as the foundation for my future career. 


What did you hope would come out of this event?

College Creek Cleanup was a way to tangibly make a difference in our own backyard. I was looking forward to making a difference in a place where I had spent a lot of time -- crossing over the creek from Oak Elm toward the Hamilton Hall, I walked by the creek nearly every day. In addition to other Live Green! projects that summer, College Creek Cleanup was a way to engage the entire community in a project that could make an immediate impact. I wanted to be proactive and do something tangible to support a cleaner environment. At the time, I didn't imagine it would become an annual event or grow the way it has.


How does this event benefit Iowa State University's campus and Ames communities?

This is a great opportunity for students and residents to support the community together. While students may only spend four years living in Ames, there is an opportunity to leave a positive and lasting impact on the community. When we did the first cleanup, I enjoyed getting to know local residents and other students who had similar interests and wanted to give back. Building a meaningful and collaborative relationship among students and residents can ensure Ames remains a vibrant college town.


What do you think about when you hear of the event's continued success, years later?

I was so thrilled and surprised that the event has continued since 2009! When we originally planned this, we had just a handful of volunteers and a simple plan. I'm so glad it's been made into an annual tradition. This shows that even if you start small, you can keep making progress, grow your efforts and expertise and make a big impact over time. Thank you to the volunteers and staff who have kept this going!

Learn more about this great event by watching this video featuring Shannon and footage from the first-ever College Creek Cleanup!



College Creek Cleanup Photo Gallery