CWU News

Students and Community Members Connect through 44th Annual Yakima River Cleanup

During Earth Week, on April 15, the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement (CLCE) will host the 44th annual Yakima River Cleanup. Each year, hundreds of volunteers descend on the Yakima River Canyon and surrounding area to remove litter, restore local trails and complete other environmentally conscious projects.

Students and community members have the unique opportunity to give back to the region by protecting and restoring the local landscape. Volunteers engage in a variety of projects ranging from staining signs and picnic tables to collecting garbage and planting trees. This year, a group of 88 volunteers will visit Helen McCabe State Park to plant more than 600 trees.

“It feels good to be giving back to the community,” stated Jasmine Bustamante, CLCE program leader and student volunteer. This program is unique for many CWU students, as it invites them to connect with area residents and CWU alumni on volunteer projects. “Because you volunteer with this community, you feel like you are a part of the community. It’s like a family.”

An estimated 300 volunteers will be a part of the event. These volunteers will be at a variety of locations along the Yakima River, including the Big Pines Campground in the Yakima Canyon and Mattoon Lake along Interstate 5. Volunteers will also fix the trail along Reecer Levy Creek.

Kim Jellison, program manager for the CWU Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, is encouraged by the volunteers’ commitment to enhance the land beyond university limits. “These students walk away from this event feeling like they have made a difference here,” she stated. “It’s rewarding for me to see them giving back to their community.”

Sponsors for the 44th annual Yakima River Cleanup include the Center for Leadership and Community Engagement, Bureau of Land Management, Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, Kittitas County Solid Waste, Central Washington University Alumni Association, CWU Environmental Club and Kittitas Environmental Education Network (KEEN), the City of Ellensburg and Washington State Parks.

Visit the CLCE in SURC 256 to volunteer. If you have volunteered with the CLCE before, you can sign up for volunteer opportunities at For more information, call 509-963-1850 or email (Subject: “ATTN: River Cleanup”).