After a couple weeks of warm beautiful weather, winter decided it still had some energy left for us at Canyon de Chelly. The temperature dropped back down, and we were graced with some very large clumps of snow drifting down from the sky. Of course all this happened the week before I had scheduled a four-day long community clean-up of our little gateway town of Chinle, Arizona. There didn’t appear to be any break either, as more rain was predicted to fall during the week. I even had to return back to my volunteer position description and replace “hot/dry conditions” with “cold/rainy conditions.”
Worried the weather was going to scare off any potential volunteers, I wasn’t sure how much clean-up would get done. It wouldn’t be the first time the weather has ruined my volunteer event plans. But to my pleasant surprise, our community members weren’t deterred by the forecast. For the first two days, the local government—Chinle Chapter—organized a young crew of six men to help collect trash with us. On the third day, five individuals from the Navajo Health Education Program came to help. Then, on the last day, we had seven students from Navajo Technical University donate their morning to us. Aside from just these groups, we had an additional seven concerned individuals from the community volunteer as well. With all of their hard work (because I know the other rangers and I would have gone pitifully far), 3 miles of road that pass through Chinle and lead directly to the Canyon de Chelly Visitor Center were cleaned. So I huge shout out to all our wonderful volunteers this past week—YOU ARE AWESOME!!
I’m sure anyone who has done litter pick-ups knows this feeling, but it is amazing to take a step back and look at the area you cleaned up and see the difference. It feels good doesn’t it? I know I felt proud of all our work and I hope all the volunteers did too. Every morning I drive that stretch of road to get to work, and it looks much better than before. My parents said they noticed as well. And despite the weather forecast, I’d like to think that Mother Nature was on our side as well. For, on the second day, even though rain was predicted during the morning hours when we were picking up litter, it didn’t pour until after we had finished. And the predicted snow storm? It waited until Friday, the day after our four day clean-up.