Happy Trails: Cleaning Up Raleigh’s Greenways

The Office of Global Engagement is still finding ways to get together in-person and help out the community. Division staff recently spent several hours cleaning up miles 12-13 along the Walnut Creek Greenway, which is a portion of the Capital Area Greenway System. Global Engagement adopted in November 2018 that section of the greenway, which starts on Centennial Campus at Lake Raleigh and runs to Lake Johnson. Since then, about a dozen OGE staff members who have volunteered nearly 50 combined hours.

map of trail adopted by OGE
Map of the greenway section adopted by Global Engagement

“We wanted to make sure that those using the greenway system were able to enjoy a clean and peaceful environment,” said David Hawley, global programming manager for the Office of Global Engagement. “During this pandemic, greenways have become an important resource for community members to get outside and exercise in a safe and enjoyable way. This has caused an uptick in the number of people using the greenway system, and increased traffic could lead to more trash.”

people picking up trash
OGE staff picking up trash along the road

Global Engagement adopted that section of the trail as part of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources’ Adopt-A-Trail program. In total, there are about 100 adoptions across the available 120 miles.

Volunteers have a large, and positive impact on Raleigh’s parks and trails,” said Mary Owens, the volunteer coordinator for the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources Department. 

“Adopt-A-Trail and other similar programs are extremely helpful to the Parks division because these volunteers are the eyes and ears of their section,” she added. “If a volunteer notices any issues along their adopted section, they are able to report it to staff and a resolution can be reached quickly. This is invaluable to staff as well as visitors.”

For the Global Engagement staff, the time on the trails was a nice team-building activity and allowed them to see each other for the first time in months since the university reduced operations in March.

Global Engagement staff volunteering to clean up the trails

“I think it provided a bit of normalcy,” Hawley added. “Yes, we were wearing masks and maintaining a safe distance from each other, but we were able to interact and perform some of our normal volunteer duties. It was also just nice to be able to converse in person with others, something I think we had taken for granted.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the city parks and recreation department to cancel many of its usual park maintenance and special events volunteering opportunities. Currently, the only programs that are operating are Adopt-A-Park, Adopt-A-Trail, and single-day park litter pick-ups.

“Even these opportunities have been edited to provide a safer environment,” Owens added.

trash collected by Lake Raleigh
Trash collected along the greenway trail from Lake Raleigh to Lake Johnson

Volunteer groups are currently asked to wear face masks and gloves, stay 6 feet apart from others, and not exceed a maximum of 10 people in a group. The department is following the guidelines from the state and constantly evaluating the situation, so safety measures may change in the future.

Meanwhile, Global Engagement staff will likely be back on the trail again this fall in September and will continue to look for other ways to volunteer throughout the community.

“NC State Global has a strong drive to serve our community, and you can regularly find us volunteering with various community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Carolina Tiger Rescue, and the Feed the Pack Food Pantry, to name a few,” Hawley added. “Opportunities to volunteer are limited due to the pandemic, so I am thankful that this provided us with an opportunity to still engage in service.”

This post was originally published in Office of Global Engagement.