1As students from Fallon and Mason Valley emerged onto the Walker Lake Beaches, they were armed with black trash bags, gloves and shovels to assist Toby Montoya and the Walker Lake Crusaders in a Wednesday morning cleanup day.

With a van full of young people from Friends of Stillwater and another sent over from Wetlands and Wings, these students are part of a summer program called Youth Conservation Corp.

These kids are working five days a week, receiving minimum wage for an eight week course to understand our region and wilderness needs. Cassy Buckmaster and Brynlee Shults, both 15 years old, agreed that the commitment was more about the needs of nature, rather than earning summer money. Nick Smith, a 16 year old, stood with instructor Dan Pedersen of the Yerington Conservation Corp, as they were loading abandoned tires, metal, trash bags full of discarded food containers and endless amounts of cans.

Smith said, “As much as I like getting out for the summer, I hate to see the way people treat nature and don’t respect the open places we have. Nevada is full of really special places, but it won’t last if we don’t care about it. Picking up what we take there is part of our responsibility in using what nature is providing.” Pedersen, also a geologist at heart, explained that teaching these values at a young age is our way of providing a better resource in the future.

“Get kids out and teach them the sanctity of nature. Let them see it, touch it and begin to love what nature has given. Besides picking up trash, it becomes an exploration of the area. The views here are amazing, as well as the variety of rocks, the birds and scenery. I can’t urge people enough to just take a walk into nature’s places and learn what is out here.”

With over 12 kids walking the shoreline, they were joined by local volunteers who arranged for the trash to be properly disposed of. All the items were layered upon Nige Giddings flatbed trailer and hauled to the Hawthorne deposal.

“As a Walker Lake resident, I feel we should do our part in keeping our beaches clean and presentable. This particular beach that is now part of the county, but it still has a ways to go. It needs to be properly managed, bathrooms provided and trash cans available, as visitors come by and are stopping here,” said Giddings.