Island youth litter patrol on mission with a message
If you see a band of boys in bright orange shirts lurking about this summer, don’t be alarmed – you’re likely looking at the Jamestown Youth Litter and Conservation Team, a group of youths led by team coordinator Bonnie Jamison.
Their mission? Collecting 900 bags of trash and other recyclables.
The team, which picks up litter around the island and helps preserve the environment, also makes an effort to help islanders realize how big an issue littering is in the community and what can be done to stop it.
The team is kept apprised of community comments and reactions to their work. They say the input helps them prioritize areas that need attention and also influences the way they approach their tasks.
They are authorized to pick up trash and litter on town-owned property and town roads. They are not permitted to police state roads, such as North Main Road, where litter is a major complaint of Jamestown residents. The state is responsible for its maintenance, as well as for the upkeep of Route 138 and Conanicus Avenue.
The Litter Team is based at the recreation center. They travel around the island to such places as Taylor Point, Mackerel Cove, Ft. Getty, Head’s Beach, underneath the Jamestown and Newport bridges, and the downtown area.
Team members work for eight weeks during the summer, from June 28 to Oct. 31. They are split into various groups that work one day a week each from 7 a.m. to noon. Although they only work formally during the summer, the boys say they spread their message and carry on with their work ethic throughout the year.
Bonnie Jamison, a Jamestown native, took charge of the program 11 years ago when the town recreation department was under the direction of Matt Bolles.
“I’ve been a beachcomber all my life,” Jamison said. “I walked the beaches collecting shells and other things, and while I was at it, I picked up trash. A friend told me about the program at the recreation center and said that I should apply. I could at least get paid for my work. So I filled out an application and interviewed with Matt Bolles. I’ve been running the Litter Team ever since.”
Due to budget cuts, the boys voted to schedule everyone to work only one complete day a week instead of hiring fewer people to work the four-day schedule. This way, more people had an opportunity to earn a little money during the summer, when jobs are scarce for students, Jamison said.
Jamison also said that applicants for the team had to follow the new employment rules and prove they were legal citizens and residents of Jamestown to be eligible for work.
“They were selected by the quality of their interview just like any other job,” Jamison said. “We had 39 applicants for 12 positions. All were asked the same series of questions, and they were judged by their collective answers.”
Jamison said that she is continually asked why there are no girls on the team.
“The answer is simple,” she said. “Only one applied. The work doesn’t seem to attract girls. We have nothing against them. If any applied, they would stand as good a chance of getting hired as the boys.”
The boys range from 14 to 17 in age. The members of the 2010 Jamestown Youth Litter and Conservation Team are Charlie Keen, Dustin Page, Drew MacIntyre, Tim Archer, Graham Jamison, Clay Caswell, Marc Laflamme, James Perry, Carson Toppa, Noel Laflamme, Riley Green and Noel Robinson.
During their first week, the team collected 38 bags of refuse, 9.5 bags of recyclables and 12 bags marked “other” – for a total of 59.5 bags holding 30 gallons each.
The team removes all bottle tops and saves the flip tops for the Providence Ronald McDonald House.
Ultimately, the Jamestown Youth Litter and Conservation Team offers this message to the community: “Remember – recycling does matter.”