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When Kids Take Action...

Porter Pushinsky, 11, leads a neighborhood stream clean up.

On a Saturday in June, when I arrived at the meeting point for a neighborhood stream cleanup, I found a gathering of friends. Picking up litter is an unending task in the floodplain where I walk the dogs. Although we're lucky to have this nearby green space wandering along Cobbs Creek, some who visit leave trash behind. The good-Samaritan organizer turned out to be Porter Pushinsky,11, our shared-driveway neighbor.

Porter says he began by making the posters, hanging them up around the community, and telling all his friends to come. He also asked them to help spread the word.

"I go down there every day, and I see a bunch of garbage. I didn't want that to be there because that's home to a lot of animals and creatures. And it hurt my heart to see that in the woods," Porter says.

I often wonder what makes some people care about the environment while others throw dirty food containers out the car window. I'm not sure what makes the difference, but I suspect it has something to do with having positive experiences in nature.

In addition to cleaning up, Porter was happy to share his love of nature with others. "One of my friends, Max, had never been to the stream before. So that was cool."

Cool indeed! It’s kind of awe-inspiring when a young person decides to take action. But having parents who consider the environment a topic worthy of family discussion surely helps. Porter's parents, Heather and Matt, take Porter and his sister, Rye, on regular camping trips. But Matt says that Porter is just naturally empathetic.

If Porter were the benevolent king of the world, he said he would want everyone to clean up. "Each day when they wake up, they should have a bag next to their bed and they go out and try to pick up at least three pieces of trash. And if the whole world is doing that it'll go by quicker."


Whatever the magic recipe is, Porter stepped up and got family, friends, classmates, and strangers to show up on a Saturday afternoon to make the stream a better place. Well done, Porter!

Do you know any kids who take action on social or environmental issues? Please tell us about them!

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