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In order to help “keep San Marcos beautiful,” the Terry Scholars have adopted a plot of land and have vowed to keep it clean and beautiful. We’ve adopted the spot right next to the San Marcos Nature Center right across the street from Herbert’s Taco Hut on Riverside Drive and make a trip at least twice a semester to pick up trash and recycling from the grounds. We are personally involved in the preservation of this precious San Marcos resource. We want to keep San Marcos beautiful and we’re doing something about it!

Adopt-a-Spot is a part of Keep San Marcos Beautiful (KSMB)’s efforts to help raise public awareness’ educate citizens about the source of debris’ and generate public support for community involvement to Keep San Marcos San Marvelous. It’s a free and easy way for groups to help San Marcos and makes a visible impact in our community. It also helps earn some Texas Pride and shows that Texas State students care enough about the environment to take action. Because San Marcos is growing, the population is growing as well. With this surge in population, trash and litter is increasing in public areas. 90% of the litter is picked up by employees that are paid by taxes, so volunteer efforts help reduce litter cleanup costs and save taxes for better use. With the money saved, the city can direct tax dollars to city beautification rather than trash pickup. Also, by seeing volunteers at work in adopt-a-spot areas, the public responds. Research has shown that Adopt-a-Spot areas are less littered in.

I enjoy participating in this event in order to give back to the beautiful community that we live in. It’s a fairly short event, lasting only an hour or two, but it’s very rewarding to help keep and area clean and to do my part.

Everyone's here to clean the park!

Everyone’s here to clean the park!

We usually get a group of a little under ten or so people whenever we decide to go have an Adopt-a-Spot Clean Up day. This is one of the events that draws more upperclassmen out from hiding, though we have the usual freshmen participation, as well.

We get down and dirty to help keep San Marcos beautiful.

We get down and dirty to help keep San Marcos beautiful.

Everyone gets a pair of gloves to put on so that they don’t get they’re hands all messy from the trash and we split up into groups to cover more ground more quickly. There’s usually two or three groups of two or three people. We carry around two large bags for collection. Black bags are used to collect trash while white bags are used for recycling.

Usually, there’s not a lot of trash out in the open fields, which is nice because it makes our job easier and shows that people aren’t littering. Though, oftentimes the trash is hiding. The trash is commonly caught in the twigs and branches of bushes and low-hanging trees in the more-thickly vegetated areas. Sometimes we have to get down and dirty in order to reach the trash. We always find the most litter deep within the thickets surrounding our adopted area.

You can find some unusual items.

You can find some unusual items.

Sometimes we find the strangest things on our Adopt-a-Spot expeditions. One time we found an entire tire that had been abandoned in our park. It was quite heavy, but we removed it from the area. Kim found a large metal stick hidden in the brush, probably used to help a tree stand or perhaps it was once part of a fence. She had to dig around in the plants to get it out, but afterwards it was carried around like a trophy.

What is this thing?!

What is this thing?!

A lot of times we’ll find empty bottles that once held alcohol, especially in the deeper, thicker parts of the wood. It makes me sad when we stumble upon one of these hidden areas where empty boxes are strewn about and broken bottles litter the leaves. At least we’re there to help clean it all up!

Unfortunately, there’s not much we can do about the graffiti in the area. There’s a sign that says something like, “Alcohol is not prohibited in this area,” though a huge purple dot has been spray-painted over the “no” to make the sign read as if it’s allowing alcohol on the premises. There’s another sign on Riverside Drive that states that the speed limit is 35 miles per hour, though black spray paint has turned the 3 into an 8, making it read “85 miles per hour.”

That was a job well done!

That was a job well done!

After we explore the area we’ve adopted, the Nature Center gardens next door, the surrounding forest, and the hidden park on the other side of the thicket, we make our way toward the baseball fields that are on the other side of the hidden park. There’s a huge dumpster over there that we can toss our trash in and call it a day. I always like to take a photograph of the triumphant moment of tossing the trash up and over into the large green bin. Somehow it’s very rewarding to think that we’ve cleared the area of that much trash. Just imagine taking a garbage bag or two full of trash and dumping it in the grass in the park…It’s a nice way of putting what we do into perspective.

After dumping our trash, we usually make our way back and return our gloves. We usually take a group picture before saying our goodbyes and returning home. Our Service Chair usually takes the recycling with her to take to a recycling center or find a recycling center. Another successful Adopt-a-Spot!

Adopt-a-Spot is a great program run by Keep San Marcos Beautiful. It allows the residents of San Marcos and the students of Texas State University to provide their service in order to help beautify and clean the San Marcos area. It also gives people a chance to get outdoors and enjoy the environment. Plus, with the parks kept clean, there’s even more incentive to get out there and enjoy!

It's been a successful day!

It’s been a successful day!

Watch this short documentary to learn more about Keep San Marcos Beautiful and the Adopt-a-Spot program:

Read more about Keep San Marcos Beautiful and their Adopt-a-Spot program on the Keep San Marcos Beautiful Website!

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