Backman Community Celebrates Earth Day with Jordan River Clean Up

  • Backman's principal showing project to superintendent
  • volunteer cleaning up land near Jordan River

The Backman community will sponsor an Earth Day event April 22 to both continue the clean up of the Jordan River area that borders the school and celebrate science. This is the second such event the school and its community partners have sponsored this year. On an overcast Saturday morning this fall, more than 80 members of the Backman community gathered in this same space to clean, clear branches and repair the trail that runs along the river. This project, overseen by Backman’s family and school collaboration specialist Karina Lugo Villalba, was one step in a plan to create a safe and clean space for students as they travel to school from River Cove apartments and other complexes on the other side of the river from Backman Elementary. Additional steps include petitioning the city for an area that will include a bridge that spans the river and green space nearby that could be used for an outdoor classroom.

The morning of the Jordan River clean up, community organizations gathered early to get project areas set up. REI’s outreach program greeted families, students, staff and neighbors with t-shirts and an encouraging smile, while workers with the Utah Conservation Crew helped unload mulch along the trail. Volunteers used rakes and shovels to create a smoother path for running and walking along the river. Families of Backman students worked side-by-side with teachers and other staff members to clear the current path used by students traveling to school. Students of all ages, including former Backman students who are now in middle school, came to pick up trash. The collective effort made a big difference for students. David, a 4th grader at Backman who participated in the event with his mom, said, “Now when I go to school and pass by the river, it reminds me of the hard work people did for us.”

The Earth Day event will include some of the same clean-up activities but also opportunities to explore science themes, such as plant growth by planting wildflower seeds. All members of the Salt Lake community are invited to help. As David, the 4th grader, pointed out after the fall event, “I wanted to help because it’s MY community and we should take care of our community.

Author: Jeanne Winters Morriss, Backman Elementary

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