Stream Team Leader Jake Klim, second from left, poses with volunteers after removing trash and recyclable from Rock Creek in Rockville.
Jake Klim has been a Stream Team leader with Rock Creek Conservancy for two years. He is going to be hosting a cleanup event in Randolph Hills for this year's MLK Weekend of Service, so we interviewed him about his experiences as a Stream Team leader and why he decided to volunteer on MLK Day.
"It's important for people to not simply treat the upcoming weekend as a "3 day weekend". I've certainly been guilty of this myself, but I'm thankful that RCC approached me and asked whether I would be willing to spearhead another cleanup. For me, this is yet another chance to "give back" to the local community in my own way." - Jake Klim, RCC Stream Team Leader
1) When and how did you get involved with Rock Creek Conservancy?
I am a runner and I frequent the trails around Rock Creek multiple times a week and have been doing so for the better part of 15 years. After Earth Day one year, I saw all the big bright orange trash bags lining the trail for miles and miles and I was very inspired. I actually felt guilty for not knowing about the cleanup beforehand and made a point to get involved in future cleanups in an effort to "give back" to the waterway and the trails that I enjoy so much. I feel as if everyone should give back (whether it's working at a soup kitchen, volunteering with the elderly, giving blood). I love spending time outdoors, so for me, trash cleanups are a perfect fit.
Stream Leader Jake Klim poses with volunteers after removing 50 bags of trash and recyclable from Rock Creek in Rockville.
2) Why do you participate in Rock Creek Conservancy's MLK Weekend of Service?
It's important for people to not simply treat the upcoming weekend as a "3 day weekend". I've certainly been guilty of this myself, but I'm thankful that RCC approached me and asked whether I would be willing to spearhead another cleanup. For me, this is yet another chance to "give back" to the local community in my own way.
3) Describe what the day is like on MLK day?
Each and every stream cleanup--whether it's on Earth Day, MLK Day, or whether it's a random date picked in the fall--is a great excuse to spend a little bit of time opening the eyes of people previously not involved in RCC's cleanups. I think people genuinely like "giving back" and simply need an excuse to do so. RCC offers countless cleanups throughout the year which are well-attended by people hoping to make a difference.
Stream Team Leader Jake Klim (center) removes trash from a log jam with his wife, Katie Klim, and friend, Patrick Murphy at a recent Rock Creek cleanup in Rockville.
4) How do you personally benefit from volunteering?
I enjoy running past the creek after a cleanup and seeing greens, browns and other earth tones; not translucent plastic bags, black tires, clear glass bottles, and the like. Restoring the natural look and feel of the creek goes a long way for me.
5) What is the biggest change you've seen in Rock Creek and its parks?
I'm a creature of habit and I run some of the same trails over and over and over, so when I see something new and different, it often catches my eye. Over the past few years, I've seen an uptick in certain animal species in the creek, most notably beaver. I'm not by any means an ecologist, but I like to think that seeing an uptick in various animal species is a sign of a good, healthy ecosystem. However, in spite of this, and the great efforts made by organizations like the RCC and its volunteers, I still see the damage people cause to the creek and the surrounding woods, whether it's spray paint, tree carvings or the constant deluge of trash that inevitably finds its way into the waterways. I'm hopeful I can report back that that's not the case in the coming years.
6) What's the weirdest piece of trash you ever found?
Don't really have a good answer for this as I haven't found anything too weird...yet!
To sign up for Jake's event on Monday, January 15, click here. To learn more about Rock Creek Conservancy's Weekend of Service and find other events near you, click here.
Inspired to become a Stream Team leader yourself? Click here.