paige and fishinglinebinsmallBy Paige Sloma
Two years ago Partners for Clean Streams took a leap of faith and hired an oddball. My background is in nuclear medicine, not environmental. Shortly after I was hired I went with our Program Coordinator to an Earth Day event, which at that time was completely out of my comfort zone. I needed to talk about things still completely foreign to me and talk to strangers. Yikes! As someone that can speak to people about needles, radioactivity and cancer without batting an eye you would think this environmental thing would be so easy. Not so fast. I had to come up with things -real life, touchable things-to get people curious about our activities and want to be part the action and donate to forward our mission. This was the start of the evolution of how I relate to my position with PCS, but also how I present PCS to others, particularly the children.

Many of you reading this have participated in Get the Lead Out! or Clean Your Streams Day and have contributed to the spectacular stories I get to share as I take PCS to the streets. In the past two years, we have saved several great gems for my “space junk” collection as it is affectionately known in the office, including a disc brake, a piece of rebar and a brick from the 1940’s. We also have a traveling Get the Lead Out! bucket so people can visualize the rats nest of monofilament line that comes from fishing snags. We were also asked by the Scouts to participate in their Popcorn Kickoff last year and discuss our project at Camp Miakonda. “Yes” was the immediate answer, but we also needed to have a fun activity for the boys. Naturally my brain linked popcorn and water and the crazy idea of the “popcorn rivers” was born. This demonstrated how water moves around obstacles in its path. It made perfect sense to me, but not so much to the rest of the office. After some convincing and fabrication, Ava and I took our popcorn (water) and four example riverbeds to the kickoff and had a blast!

In the past two years I have gone from listening cross-eyed to people speak in “enviro-code” about BUI’s, AOC’s, CYS, SDS, RAP’s, GYSD and TMDL’s, to knowing I do belong here. But I certainly make them wonder every once and awhile. As I talk about PCS projects and events with people around the area, everyone is interested in the facts, the restoration project at Miakonda, the amount of garbage cleaned up on Clean Your Streams Day, and the odd finds or the massive number of volunteers and coordination needed to get everything done. But I get asked one question more often than others that truly makes me pause:

“How do you get the lead sinkers out of the river?”

Come find out this summer at our Get the Lead Out! events. We’ll share this secret and more. You never know what you’ll find or where you’ll find it! And if I can stretch WAY outside my comfort zone, so can you. Come join us in the river!