This weekend, the community will have a chance to help clean some local roads, while also saying goodbye to a local environmental official.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, starting at the Cumming Fairgrounds, Keep Forsyth County Beautiful will host the second annual Great FoCo Cleanup, a part of Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup, where volunteers will help clean roads in the community.
“We are trying to really target roads in the community that need cleaning, that really need some attention,” said Tammy Wright, environmental program manager with the group. “Every year we’ve done this, we’ve got a little bit more technical, a little bit more strategic, so I’m just super excited this year for lots of reasons.”
The event will also be the last cleanup event for Kevin Smith, who has worked with Keep Forsyth County Beautiful for 12 years and is relocating to Florida.
“Our record had been 310 volunteers, and that’s just at a one-time cleanup event,” said Tammy Wright. “Our goal this year was to set a record, and specifically, we tried to encourage people who know Kevin Smith and who have worked with him over the years to try to send him off by even breaking that record.”
Wright said the group had about 265 volunteers signed up a week before the event.
“We have all types of groups signed up,” she said. “We’ve got families. We’ve got schools. We’ve got scouts. We’ve got businesses.”
Smith said he is finishing a degree in environmental studies and wants to spend more time in the field, especially in wetlands, which, along with his wife’s family living in the area, made Florida a natural choice.
“At the end of the day, I want to be in the field,” he said. “I may end up teaching again down the road, but for now I want to do some of the things I’ve been teaching about for all these years.”
Still, he said it would be tough leaving Forsyth County.
“I served in the military and took great pride in serving my country,” he said. “I kind of feel like the past 12 years had the same feel from Forsyth County. It’s been an honor to serve the county because I’ve just known so many great people here and the different leaders and people that have helped me along the way. It just has really been an honor to work and serve in Forsyth County.”
He said some of his favorite parts of the position were getting the public involved with science.
“I teach a citizen science program called the Adopt-a-Stream program. We train volunteers in different water quality data collection methods,” he said. “One of the programs that is kind of an offshoot of that is a frog monitoring program that we have.”
Smith said his largest group to participate in the frog monitoring program were second and third graders at Whitlow Elementary School
“I have about 200 of those kids that are actually certified through my program and that are certified to collect data on the frog populations in Forsyth County,” he said. “There are 14 different species of frogs in Forsyth County, and each has a different call.”
Wright said she worked with Smith nearly her entire time with Keep Forsyth County Beautiful and said he left an impression on the organization.
“Water really became his passion,” she said. “Pretty much, the water program we have in place now – Adopt-a-Stream and the frog monitoring program on the greenway – Kevin pretty much created those programs.”
Wright said after the cleanup, a small get-together will be held for Smith at the Cumming Fairgrounds.
Volunteers can sign up before the event at KeepForsythCountyBeautiful.org and clicking on the “volunteer” tab.