Share Your Story: Enter the National River Cleanup Photo Contest

Bog cleanup on the Severn River, MD | © Jennifer Carr

Bog cleanup on the Severn River, MD | © Jennifer Carr

Each year cleanup volunteers and organizers submit their photos to the National River Cleanup® photo contest. With the deadline for submitting your 2013 photos quickly approaching I wanted to reflect on how powerful photos can be.

On Thanksgiving Day after the turkey leftovers had been stored and the last slices of pecan pie were being served, my dad disappeared into the basement. When he returned, he carried with him a large plastic container full of family photos dating back to my parents’ childhood. We spent the evening sorting photos, sharing stories, and reminiscing on times long forgotten.


Flipping through a stack of photos, I found a picture of me and two of my best friends from a weekend trip we took on the Lehigh River in Northeastern Pennsylvania during high school. That single picture evoked hilarious memories of learning to roll our kayaks before finally and triumphantly pulling off the maneuver. My mind wandered beyond that weekend to pool kayak sessions during the winter and day trips on Saturdays that spring exploring new rivers and streams. My experiences cemented my passion for preserving these special places, and it’s through photos that I preserve the memories. 

Rolling a kayak  | © Peter Roquemore

Learning how to roll my kayak! | © Peter Roquemore

For many people volunteering at a river cleanup creates that same connection to rivers and streams.  Our cleanup photos let us share that memory with others and even years down the road remind us of our inspiring work. It doesn’t matter if you’re a volunteer who has spent your entire life on the river or someone who is out on the river for your first time; we all walk away with that story.

Do you have a favorite photo from your river cleanup? Submit your cleanup photos to the National River Cleanup 2013 Photo Contest and share your river cleanup story with the nation.

Don’t delay, time is running out! The National River Cleanup 2013 Photo Contest is accepting your river cleanup photos until December 31st. View contest terms and conditions here.