The spring temperatures and sunny weather brought volunteers out from all over Fort Dodge to help clean up trash improve the city’s appearance.
The seventh annual Foreign Object Debris Walk, which invites volunteers to collect loose garbage and clean up the city, is put on by the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance’s image committee.
Tuesday’s FOD Walk was the largest event ever put on, according to Todd Redenius, community development director for the Growth Alliance.
“In addition to the roughly 75 volunteers, we also had 1,100 middle school kids picking up around Fort Dodge Middle School, the roundabout and the aquatics center,” Redenius said. “What’s unique is that today is Earth Day and the teachers are tying in their curriculum with the FOD Walk.”
Groups were spread out all over, including the downtown area, Fifth Avenue South and the west side of town.
“In the past we’ve focused only on the retail areas,” Redenius said. “This year we decided to make the FOD Walk communitywide.”
Many of those participating in the FOD Walk were part of teams, including one made up of Cargill employees.
Terri Beck, of Farnhamville, said it was her first year participating in the FOD Walk.
“I’m an outdoor person and I like doing anything I can to improve the look of mother earth,” Beck said.
Her co-worker, Darci Nemmers, of Fort Dodge, was also participating for the first time.
“I think it’s really rewarding to be a part of a group that helps clean up and make Fort Dodge a great community,” Nemmers said, adding she hoped to help make the town look nice.
Fort Dodge Senior City Planner Stephanie Houk Sheetz, who has helped plan the FOD Walk in the past, decided to help clean up a field near Second Avenue South this year.
“It’s more exciting to be out and be a part of the cleanup,” Sheetz said.
She added that she noticed there were a lot of plastic bags in the field.
“It would be nice if people threw them away when they were done with them,” she said.
Carissa Miller, associate city planner, also helped with the cleanup.
“It’s a nice day, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get involved,” Miller said.
Though she had only been cleaning up for about 20 minutes, Miller said she had already collected plenty of trash.
“I’m got about one-fourth of a bag filled and I’m not even a fourth of the way done,” she said.
The Fort Dodge Fire Department also got involved in cleaning up the community. Among those working was firefighter Derek DeWitt, who was on his first shift with the department.
He never imagined he’d be cleaning a field when he was hired as a firefighter.
“But it’s a good way to get out in the community and meet other people,” DeWitt said. “There’s a lot of people out here and we’re getting a lot done.”
Fort Dodge City Councilman Jeffrey Halter, who is also a member of the Growth Alliance’s image committee, said he was happy with the turnout.
“It’s positive because it’s productive in getting unwanted trash out of the community,” Halter said. “They’re cleaning up the places that are visited and seen not only by the people that live here, but also those from out of town.”
“If you look at the areas that are being maintained, they’re mainly our retail and entrance areas,” he said. “It’s all about keeping those areas clean of debris.”