Picking up the island's litter for six years
The Jamestown Youth Litter and Conservation Team, under the supervision of JYLCT coordinator Bonnie Jamison, has been responsible for keeping public areas free from trash and litter for the past six years.
The team picks up unsightly litter and trash on beaches, school athletic fields, downtown streets, parking lots, shorelines, nature trails, parks and recreation areas, and everywhere else except state roads. The state Department of Transportation is responsible for keeping those areas tidy, Jamison said.
Although the team existed under a different name, the program has been in existence since 1985. The cleanup effort began as the OSCAR program, which is an acronym for Ocean State Cleanup and Recycling. The state initiated the program and when the state funding stopped the Jamestown Recreation Department picked up the slack and formed the JYLCT, which is the work force that exists today.
Jamison had managed the OSCAR program since 1999 and stayed on as the coordinator when the town took it over and changed the name.
Team members are paid $8 an hour, Jamison said. They work four days a week from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. She said the team has 10 members this year who started work after school let out the third week in June.
"They will work until Aug. 31, when school starts up again," Jamison said. "Then the fall schedule starts the second week in September, when they will work every Sunday until the last week in October," she added.
According to Jamison, the job is advertised in the Press every March and any Jamestown resident between the ages of 14 and 17 can apply. "We look for self-starters who are environmentally conscious and community minded," Jamison said.
"We can't follow every one of them around to make sure they're working," she added. "We need people who want a good clean community, and have a love for the environment."
Team members are taught the importance of recycling and how the recycling program works. Jamison said the trash they collect is sent to the recycling depot and the money earned from the program is set aside for good use. Some of it will go to environmental efforts like wind power for electricity and permanent signs that encourage people to stop littering and recycle everything they can.
"Right now the kids paint their own signs on the blue barrels that are placed around the island in strategic places for people to dispose of their trash," she said. The barrels are the result of donations. "Whenever you see one, remember that the JYLCT kids painted it and put it there," Jamison said.
She said she is always surprised with the amount of trash found around the barrels where people either throw their litter on the ground or miss the mouth of the barrel. Then they walk away without picking it up, she said. The signs the kids paint on them usually just encourage people to use them.
The JYLCT is in need of a logo, Jamison said. The Teen Center is helping by holding a contest for a new team logo. There will be a first and second prize of gift certificates from local merchants for the best designs.
In addition to working, the team attends classes that teach them about the global condition, and how to dispose of clean trash that is washed up on the beach. They learn about the condition of the state and how it compares to other areas. They also learn who they should contact in the government to initiate programs to encourage more recycling. They are taught the importance of making people aware of the damage of irresponsible littering and disposal of environmentally harmful waste, Jamison said.
Team member Rachel Perry, 15, has been working with the team for two years. "I really enjoy the job," Perry said. "I would recommend it to any student. It's lots of fun."
Perry said the job has helped her to develop communication and leadership skills, and that she has learned a lot about trash, recycling and the environment that she didn't know. Perry is an artist and she says it is an opportunity to put her artistic talents to good use. She helps make signs and decorate the trash barrels and containers with artwork.