Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful celebrated Earth Day with three river cleanups


(Photo via Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Students from Frank Hughes High School, a local chemical plant employee and even some vacationers removed 7,373 pounds of trash from the Tennessee River.

KTNRB hosted three river cleanups to celebrate Earth Day last week.

Students help kick off Earth Day cleanups

To kick off the Earth Day cleanups, they partnered with the Wayne County Beautification Project in Clifton and students from Frank Hughes High School. The students rode to Jeter Towhead Island, where a marina had been stranded after a major flood in 2019.

The students collected 2,814 pounds of trash, including 196 square feet of Styrofoam that had been dislodged from the marina, a 500-pound tractor tire, and two refrigerators.

“These impressive kids had the best attitude, showed a hard work ethic during the entire cleanup, and used teamwork to get the job done—all things that give hope for our future,” said Kathleen Gibi, executive director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful. “They made it a very special Earth Day.”

Gibi said it was Lindsay Ross, project manager for the Wayne County Beautification Project, who reached out to make the event happen and did much of the organizing.

Chemical plant gives a donation, staff volunteer at cleanup

On Friday, April 23, nine volunteers from the Chemours chemical plant helped to remove 3,161 pounds of trash at a cleanup at New Johnsonville State Historic Park along the Kentucky Lake portion of the river.

(Photo via Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful) Chemours employees posed with the boat and truck, pointing to the camper top that their company had made possible.

The weight pulled included 114 bags of trash, 223 pounds of random plastic, 12 tires, and two mannequin heads.

Chemours also gave a $2,000 donation that helped KTNRB buy a camper top.

“This was the second cleanup that the Chemours team has participated in on Kentucky Lake, and it’s so crucial for businesses like Chemours to set such an example of river stewardship”

Kathleen Gibi

Vacationers brave the rain to join cleanup

The weekend wrapped up on a rainy Saturday, April 24, with a cleanup in partnership with New Johnsonville State Historic Park. Three women who were on a weekend girls trip, and an 82-year-old retired county commissioner, came out to clean shorelines on Kentucky Lake.

Despite the cleanup being cut short due to rain, volunteers were still able to remove 1,398 pounds of trash, including a childrens’ kitchenette set, a boat seat, and a big wheel.

“It’s always inspiring to see volunteers come out to clean our river, but to come out in the rain while on vacation or at 82 years old takes it to another level!” Gibi said. “There’s hope for our waterways because of people like them.”

(Photo via Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful)

“Caring for this area of the Tennessee River is important for the preservation and protection of the natural resources within the park, as well as Humphreys County, and we are so grateful for the dedicated community volunteers, ” said Ranger Sinz.

This was the sixth cleanup that KTNRB has hosted in partnership with Johnsonville State Historic Park the first one held in October 2020. Since then volunteers have removed 18,578 pounds of trash from the area in those six cleanups.

To learn more about KTNRB or register for a cleanup, visit

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