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  • Writer's pictureKeep Yankton Beautiful

Clean Sweep: Earth, Arbor & Cleanup Days with KYB



April has settled in South Dakota in all her splendor! As if overnight, our lawns appear

lush and green, the trees are budding, and formerly dormant perennials and noxious

weeds alike are bursting forth from the ground. For some of us, April is the gateway to

gardening, as we carefully tend our seedlings and dream of transplanting them in the

perfect patch of partial sun. For others, April has our minds occupied with soccer

schedules and a whirlwind of summer recreation. For others still, April has given way to

deep desires to clean ALL the things in a very springy fashion. For me, once the

calendar crosses to April, gardening and recreation momentarily fade from my priorities

amongst my grand plans for a Great Cleanup. After five years as Executive Director of

this organization, the last Saturday in April has become sacrosanct; to me, is the

greatest secular Saturday of the year–a day on par with my family reunions and

children’s birthday parties. The last Saturday of April–rain, sun, sleet, or snow–has

been, and perhaps always will be, the date of our annual Great American Cleanup.


But even before my favorite earthly holiday known as Yankton’s Great American

Cleanup, there’s another day that deserves our attention: Earth Day. Back in 1970 in

San Francisco, Earth Day was first officially observed; 20 years later, Earth Day

celebrations had spread to more than 140 countries around the world. Now, 54 years

after the inaugural Earth Day, we’re preparing to honor our planet in a special way once

more on April 22, 2024. Earth Day tends to conjure up a scene or two for each of us,

whether that’s planting a tree, cleaning up your neighborhood, or finding ways to protect

our environment from harmful pollutants. If you’re wondering how YOU can celebrate

the day, you best believe Keep Yankton Beautiful has plans for an Earth-loving week for

all of Yankton.


But before we get into that, I’d like to offer a quick introduction to Earth Day’s ancestor,

Arbor Day. This happy day of tree planting first occurred on April 10,1872 in Nebraska

City, Nebraska, with an estimated one million trees planted in that single day. By 1892,

the holiday was celebrated in nearly every American state. South Dakota observes

Arbor Day on the last Friday of April every year, which conveniently falls in the same

week as Earth Day. So, when April 26 comes along this month, feel free to celebrate the

day by digging in the dirt! If you can’t plant a tree yourself the final Friday of April, join

Keep Yankton Beautiful and The City of Yankton for our annual Arbor Day Tree

Planting. This year, Memorial Park will be the location of the official tree planting,

starting at 10 a.m. on the 26th. Whether you actually manhandle the shovel, toss a few

handfuls of dirt, or simply observe, the City of Yankton and Keep Yankton Beautiful

Arbor Day Tree Planting is the perfect way to honor the day.


But planting a tree with us on Arbor Day isn’t the only way to celebrate the Earth in the

final full week of April. We also invite you to join us on Saturday the 27th for our Annual

Great American Cleanup. The event starts at 9 a.m. at Memorial Park’s south picnic

shelter. Thanks to our friends at Starbucks, there will be hot coffee to go along with a

delicious variety of donuts, courtesy of the Hy-Vee bakery. Once you’ve fueled up, an

officer from the Yankton Police Department will give a brief message on safety practices

during your cleanup. Then, with bags, gloves, and route maps in hand, we will send you

on your way to conduct your cleanup. Once you’ve completed your route, all you have

to do is tie your trash bags and leave them on the side of the road. KYB board members

and volunteers will be checking the routes and will remove the trash you have collected.

The route lengths and difficulty levels vary, but our board members will make sure you

get a route that meets your needs–whether you have an hour of your time to give, or

half the day. If you have small children and need a low traffic area or you’ve got a

zealous group ready for a challenge, we’ll find one that suits your group and your

timeframe. Individuals, families, and groups are invited to join us on Saturday, April 27

starting at 9; if you already have a route in mind you’d like to clean, let us know ahead

of time by emailing info@keepyanktonbeautiful.org.


But wait...that’s not quite all. There is one more event in late April which aligns with the

worthy mission of Earth Day: The City of Yankton’s Household Hazardous Waste Event

on April 27th. This drive-through event is the perfect opportunity for you to rid your

home of those items that are harmful to our children, pets, and environment if

improperly disposed of. Household Hazardous Waste tends to fall into four categories:

items that are toxic, ignitable, corrosive, or reactive. It’s a bit shocking to think of what all

makes the list that we have all over our homes–such as pesticides and herbicides;

carpet cleaner and nail polish; bleach and hair dye; even hairspray and lighters. For

$15, you can safely dispose of however many HHW items you have in your possession.

This event is from 9-1 on Saturday, April 27th at the City Transfer Station. Please plan

on paying with cash or writing a check to the City of Vermillion, with whom we share our

landfill.


We cordially invite you to join us in celebrating the Earth we are so fortunate to be

stewards of. Let us keep her clean and beautiful not only for ourselves, but the

generations to come. We can do great things in small ways and Keep Yankton Beautiful!


-Sarah Gehm

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