L-DHS kids clean up Whitewood Creek

From the moment they arrived on site in Pluma, working their way toward fellow students who started at the Mickelson Trail head, students were loading up garbage bags with errant bags, bottles, and other rubbish, beautifying the banks and waters of Whitewood Creek in the process. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — Lead-Deadwood High School science teacher Brady Besco saw an opportunity for his students to help clean up Whitewood Creek, contacted Deadwood city officials to get a community partnership flowing, and Saturday morning, it was all hands-on deck for a spring spruce-up one of Deadwood’s most enjoyable natural resources.

“I was fly fishing in town, and I was like, ‘Man, there’s a lot of trash in here, so we should do something about it,’” Besco said in explaining how the idea came to fruition. “The next Monday, we put together a clean-up day and we got a lot of student involvement, so it was cool.”

Everything from oft-problematic plastic bags to whiskey bottles, drink containers, cigarette butts, and even a retired sign pole protruding from its cement post were among the spoils of Saturday morning.

Deadwood Planning and Zoning Administrator Jeramy Russell said  

Lead-Deadwood High School has been a member of the city’s Adopt a Creek program in the past.

“But in this instance, Brady Besco reached out with the idea of getting some of the students together for Community Clean-Up day,” Russell said. “Mr. Besco deserves full recognition for this idea, and we are happy to partner with his project and vision.”

Lead-Deadwood High School Principal Mark Jacobs said last school year, the high school was taking steps to apply for the Whitewood Creek Adopt a Creek program, but complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t allow for finishing up the process or for holding a clean-up day last spring.

“This spring, Mr. Besco approached me about doing a Deadwood clean-up project for any interested students and staff. He had already been in contact with the city of Deadwood and started to gather interest from our students,” Jacobs said. “His enthusiastic approach to this project has led to a full sign-up sheet outside his classroom door. We have amazing community support for our schools, and we are always looking for more opportunities for our students to be involved in giving back. We currently have over 20 high school students volunteering Saturday morning and we hope to grow this project into a yearly event with both a fall and spring clean-up.”

The students worked in Deadwood along Whitewood Creek.  

“One group will start at Pluma and the other group will start at the Mickelson Trail Head,” Russell said. “While working towards each other, they will concentrate on picking up garbage along the banks of the creek. Full bags will be brought up to the Mickelson Trail for our City Parks Department to pick up Monday. Besco said he thinks the clean-up is a really cool deal for the students and the city.

“We have approximately 24 student volunteers – no extra credit or anything – they just volunteered their own time on Saturday and we’re cleaning up sections of Whitewood Creek and Mickelson Trail through Deadwood, starting at Pluma and another group is starting at Mickelson Trailhead, by First Interstate Bank, and we’re going to be meeting in the middle,” Besco said. “Just clean up the town and community.”

Besco said Deadwood Public Works Director Bob Nelson, Jr. provided gloves, trash bags and grabbers for the students and that both he and Russell have been very helpful in getting the effort off the ground.

“We were excited when Brady reached out with his idea,” Russell said. “This is an opportunity for our local young men and women to give back to their communities. It will give them a sense of pride at the end of the day knowing that their teamwork helped create a cleaner environment for our community.”

Besco agreed.

“It’s a great opportunity for kids to help in their community and give back a little bit,” Besco said. “I hope they get a sense of community, for sure. I think we live in a really pretty area and I think it’s important for students to buy in and see that it’s important to protect that area. I’m excited that we got over 20 student volunteers that are willing to come on their own time and not for extra credit or any monetary gain, just because they felt like coming to help.”

Along with the students, Besco recruited a couple of other integral volunteer helpers.

“My wife Kayla, and Amanda Jones-Schrier are both volunteering their time which is really awesome that they are going to help clean up and chaperone,” Besco said. “They’ve made the process a lot easier since we don’t all have to be in one group and can cover a lot more area.”

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