By Greg Bird
Good ideas never die. And the best ones grow in to something bigger.
The 3 bag challenge seems to be the latter.
A brainchild of Pine Knot Elementary Social Studies teacher Tara Tucker is entering its second year and has blossomed in to a county-wide movement.
What started as a lesson about civic responsibility and volunteerism last year has grown in to a yearly challenge for students to go out in to the community and pick up at least three bags of garbage.
Tucker, who doesn’t shy away from challenging herself as well, said this year’s challenge has taken off bigger and better than last year.
“It is amazing to see the number of students who are ready to step up and make a change,” Tucker said. “I just wish those who are throwing the trash out would realize that there are so many alternatives.”
“In just eight days 197 bags collected, just 94 shy of what was collected in a month last year.”
Whitley City Elementary is also joining the challenge, and both schools have had supplies donated to help them from East Kentucky PRIDE.
Tucker said it is a bittersweet lesson for her students to learn. The fact that they can get a sense of pride in making their home county look better is contrasted with the need to do so in the first place.
“I hate that we have to do it,” Tucker said. “It is great that they are learning how to help, but it is also sad that something like this has to be done to make progress.”
Tucker hopes the momentum provided by her determined students will continue to grow in to something bigger for the county.
McCreary County Deputy Judge Executive Nathan Nevels praised Tucker and the students for their leadership in cleaning up the county.
“We are super proud of the kids for their efforts,” he said. “They are being examples for all of us.”
“I would like to challenge the adults of this community to follow that example. When we see a stop sign we have to understand it is not an opportunity to dump our fast-food wrappers out of our cars.”
Nevels said the Fiscal Court is helping the students by picking up and disposing the filled trash bags. “Stephen McKinney (Emergency Management Director) and I spent several hours Monday collecting bags of trash the kids gathered this weekend,” he said. “So far we have taken two truckloads to the transfer station and there is still more to pick up. We are happy to do our part.”
Nevels added Judge Greene has challenged county employees to do their part and volunteer to clean up local roadways when they can.
The 3 bag challenge is leading up to the annual PRIDE spring clean-up, scheduled for Saturday, March 28 at Cumberland Falls.