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Better Together Campaign hosting Hocking River cleanup April 28

Event part of nationwide Interfaith Challenge

In continuance of the nationwide Interfaith Challenge, United Campus Ministry and the Better Together Campaign at Ohio University will partner with Friends of the Hocking to host an Interfaith River Clean-Up for Better Together Campaign participants, OHIO students and community members.

Scheduled for April 28, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., the event will involve students collecting trash along the banks of the Hocking River, both on foot and by canoe, and will conclude with free pizza and an interfaith reflection. Transportation will be provided to and from the site, which will be located just north of The Plains, and participants will be given a general orientation about how to conduct a safe river sweep by Friends of the Hocking.

"For two years in a row, the Better Together Campaign has chosen water security as a priority area for us to focus on, and students really like having a focus issue like water because it has both a domestic, or local component, as well as an international focus," said Melissa Wales, UCM executive director.

The Better Together Campaign, which is sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Core [IFYC], selects issues for campus campaigns to focus their service around. At OHIO, the student-led campaign has also partnered with the Office of Diversity, Access and Equity, Residential Housing and more recently University College to continue their interfaith service initiatives.

"One of our big resources in this area is our natural [geography] - our forests, our wetlands, our rivers, our watersheds - which have historically in Appalachia have been subjected to abuse from acid mine drainage to lack of proper waste disposal," Wales added. "The Hocking River runs right through our campus, and I don't think it is always seen as an important resource. So, in keeping with our theme of water security, the locality of the Hocking will help students think about our watershed here.

"This is (UCM's) second year running a Better Together campaign, and the Interfaith Youth Core recently contacted us about the fact that we are an exemplary Better Together campaign through the various components that campaign stresses, such as education, service and reflection."

Wales explained that the IFYC is interested in traveling from Chicago to film OHIO's Better Together Campaign in action, and their recognition could bring national attention to the work campaign has conducted over the past two years.

"It would be great to have IFYC come film our project because it would bring a lot of positive attention to Ohio University," Wales said. "Yes, we have students that like to have a good time but that's not all that we do here."

The Interfaith Service Campus Challenge is free and open to all faith denominations.

The nationwide Interfaith Service Campus Challenge, which was posed by President Barack Obama, is a yearlong commitment by colleges and universities to further interfaith cooperation and understanding in their communities by pledging to a year of service together. The schools with the best results will be invited to the White House for special recognition.

"Ultimately, with the river clean-up, we're hoping to bring students together across all sorts of experiences, share in an experience, and then reflect on what is it that makes you care about the environment," Wales said.

If interested in signing up for the clean-up project, RSVP to Rachel Hyden at rh148407@ohio.edu.

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