JCHS student winners from the WWA sponsored Litter Awareness in Johnson County Essay and Art Contest pose with JCHS Principal Leon Henley, County Mayor Mike Taylor and WWA representative John Kob. JCHS reports the winners as Audrey Geodines, Trinity Vanover, Abigail Roark, Madison Thomas, Alyssa Vanover, Stacy Greer, Gracie Oxentine, and Katie McCulloch.Photos by Dennis Shekinah
By Meg Dickens
Litter has been a hot topic in Johnson County in recent months. Now the Watauga Watershed Alliance (WWA) is reaching out to the younger generation. WWA, with the help of generous donations from member John Kob, sponsored the JCHS essay and art contest Litter Awareness in Johnson County to see how youth perceive litter affecting the area.
“We’re trying to bring more situational awareness to the community,” said Kob. “It’s all about awareness. The youths are the future of our county and our country. We’re hoping to bring a brighter future to Johnson County.”
The eight participants won accumulative cash and prizes, equaling a total of $600. The top four students received $125 in cash, and the other four received $25 gift cards to Subway.The contest idea started taking form at the end of 2020. Kob and his ex-wife, Joellyn Smith of the Litter Chicks, were picking up trash around the Little Dry Run area. According to Kob, it was “sheer happenstance” that the day he went to speak to the Johnson County School district and local litter control officers was the day organizers put together a meeting about local litter control. That meeting led to the countywide litter clean up on April 10.
Kob explained that the contest and recent focus on litter control were a natural segue to the WWA’s annual Watauga Lake Clean-up this September. Each year, volunteers pick up approximately 10,000 pounds of trash during the clean up, which Kob explained hardly makes a dent in the problem. As a new encouragement method, the WWA is working on a line of anti-litter stickers to pass out during the lake clean up.
“We really love it here,” Kob, a resident for approximately three years, said about Johnson County. “We love the people here and the natural beauty. We want to bring people in to experience that beauty, but first, we need to pick up trash. We want to inspire people not to throw trash out and make Johnson County great. “