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Area volunteers team for town, county cleanup efforts

Members of the Signal Knob Middle School Future Farmers of America club, from left, Ian Alsberry, Abbey Rinker, Madison Eastep and Ryan Ark, remove a fallen tree from the Strasburg Town Run on Tuesday, which was Earth Day. Josette Keelor/Daily (Buy photo)

Abbey Rinker, a 14-year-old eighth grader at Signal Knob Middle School in Strasburg, rakes trash and debris from the Town Run on Tuesday. Josette Keelor/Daily (Buy photo)

Alex Sealock, from left, Nick Jenkins, Callie Stead, Zachary Hafele, Ben Runion and Jacob Knapp remove debris from the Town Run on Earth Day. Some of the seventh and eighth graders plan to participate in Saturday's Strasburg Community Cleanup Day from 9 a.m. to noon. The rain date will be the morning of May 3. Josette Keelor/Daily (Buy photo)

By Josette Keelor

STRASBURG -- Volunteers never know what they'll find in the Strasburg Town Run each Earth Day.

Usually there's a lot of trash and overgrowth to clear away, said Jaclyn Roller, Signal Knob Middle School agriculture teacher and Future Farmers of America instructor.

On Tuesday "They found a snapping turtle," she said. "They saved him because he was actually stuck, his head was stuck in a can." Another group pulled four lawn chairs out of the water, she added.

Part of a twice yearly effort the FFA group has continued for 10 years, the cleanup day offers what she called a neat perspective.

"I think the kids can see the connection between when they do it in the fall and do it in the spring, because then it's not as much when we come back through," Roller said.

Anticipating Strasburg's Community Cleanup Day this Saturday morning, the 15 students helped the town get a head start on beautification efforts. They also joined residents from around Shenandoah County for Litter Pick-Up Months, designated for April and May.

Nonprofit organizations participating in the countywide cleanup should contact the Department of Solid Waste Management for orange bags to use for picking up trash any time until May 31. Locations are at 349 Landfill Road, Edinburg; 600 N. Main St., Suite 100, Woodstock; 6191 Main St., Mount Jackson; and at the Strasburg High School Vocation Agriculture Department at 250 Ram Drive, Strasburg.

An $11,000 grant from the Department of Environmental Quality allows participating organizations to receive more money based on the number of bags of trash they pick up, according to a recent announcement from the county administration office.

From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, anyone -- including residents, businesses, civic groups, housing developments, homeowners associations and schools -- is invited to help with the town cleanup that Hometown Strasburg Director Carla Wallen said started in 2011 with preparations for Strasburg's 250th anniversary celebration.

"We wanted to have the town looking especially nice, because we knew that we could have a lot of visitors that year," she said.

The community-wide effort is not directly involved with the Signal Knob FFA but benefits from convenient timing, said Wallen, who joined in with Tuesday's Earth Day cleanup.

"We don't have enough volunteers to do it on our own," she said. "We couldn't do it without them."

A group led by Roller will meet at the school Saturday to clean the grounds, the road to Sandy Hook Elementary and the elementary school campus.

"Every year it's usually just us," she said. "I try to encourage teachers to come out to be team captains." She also likes to leave prize boxes along the cleanup route as incentive for students to participate.

Eighth grader Ben Runion, who helped with the Town Run effort along Massanutten Street, anticipated returning Saturday with several classmates to help in other areas around Strasburg.

"I like helping the community," he said. "It helps the stream out and it helps the environment."

Volunteers with Saturday's town cleanup, sponsored by Hometown Strasburg, can contact Wallen at 540-465-8793 or sghouse@shentel.net for orange bags to collect plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paper, plastic and other small trash items. Tires will be accepted, but no large household items should be left on the street.

Contact the Shenandoah County Landfill at 540-984-8573 or www.shenandoahcountyva.us/ to be a part of the countywide Litter Pick-Up Months.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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