A student walks on the Freshman Experience trail on the south side of campus. The Office for Sustainability’s “Adopt a Trail” program has provided students the opportunity to volunteer and create a cleaner campus environment.



Members of UA student organizations walked along the edge of Mullins Creek March 28, collecting trash as part of the Office for Sustainability’s new “Adopt a Trail” program. It provides members of student organizations and clubs with volunteer and team-building opportunities while helping the OFS keep campus trails clean and beautiful.

The program focuses specifically on maintaining the Fayetteville Traverse mountain bike  trail, which runs from the Fowler House Lawn through the Victory Garden south to lower Garland Avenue, connecting to the Freshman Experience Trail, according to the OFS website. The office requires each organization to complete at least three hour-long cleanups each semester. It provides groups with necessary supplies such as grabbers, trash bags and gloves.

OFS campus engagement coordinator Kaylie Shimer created the project to maintain the trails, build community and promote teamwork, which is why she wanted to encourage participation from campus organizations, she said.

“When you’re working together, it's team building,” Shimer said, “and you are doing something that improves everybody’s quality of life here.”

The program has already accumulated several participating organizations, including Students Advocating for the Environment, Cycling Club, National Residence Honorary Hall, RecycleBacks and Alpha Delta Pi, among others, Shimer said.

Since the program started in February, 129 volunteers from adopting organizations have participated and completed 17 cleanups, as of Saturday. The volunteers have collected 84 trash and 11 recycling bags so far, Shimer said.

Volunteer Action Center President Taylen Day said she has loved having outside opportunities for the organization to serve together while helping keep the Earth clean. The VAC has adopted Oak Ridge Trail, which runs between West Center Street and Garland Avenue, and completed two cleanups for this semester.

“Everything just really lined up very well with our programs, values and everything,” Day said. “We definitely are going to keep doing it next year.”

Sierra Student Coalition President Emily Tubbs said she thinks the program is a cool way to expand reach on campus as a relatively small organization. The SSC adopted segment 2 of the Traverse trail, which beginsat the intersection of Stadium Drive and Maple Street intersection and ends outside the Stadium Drive parking garage.

Tubbs was surprised at the result of the organization’s first cleanup, she said.

“There was a lot more trash than I was expecting,” Tubbs said. “One of the hills that a lot of students slid on when it snowed had a lot of trash from that, like cardboard boxes and plastic lids.”

On the other hand, Tubbs found there was not as much trash as she thought at the second cleanup. At that moment, she realized the program was actually working, she said.

Tubbs said she thinks the program is important because it specifically focuses on the UA campus environment.

“I think there are a lot of other environmental organizations on campus that do cleanups,” Tubbs said, “but I feel like a lot of cleanups are other places around the city of Fayetteville, and I think it’s important to prioritize cleaning our campus as well.”

Taryn Mead, a teaching assistant professor at the Sam M. Walton College of Business, attended the March 28 cleanup with members of the college’s Outdoor Products and Services Certificate program. She said she has participated in many community cleanups over the years and thinks society takes just how much little bits of waste accumulate for granted.

Mead has completed research about entrepreneurship and ocean plastic, so she is attuned to how much plastic ends up in the ocean, where it goes and what it does to the environment, she said.

“In the marine plastic entrepreneurship space, they talk about upstream sources of the waste that ends up in that mass, and it’s here,” Mead said. “It’s our backyard, so I really think that it’s up to us to really take responsibility for that little by little.”

Shimer likes that the program encourages the UA community to actively think about the environment while creating opportunities to bond with peers outside in a pretty place, she said.

“It’s where we’re all living and working, and we want this place to be kept clean and beautiful already,” Shimer said, “and it really just encourages sustainable development and gets people outside and on the trails that are made for them.”

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