Biannual Rio Grande clean-up doubles in size

October 27, 2015


More than 120 EPCC students, faculty, and other members of the community gathered at the Borderland Bridge on Saturday morning, to participate in the Rio Grande River Cleanup. 




Photo by Isaac Viera/ Tejano Tribune

Javier Aguirre (L) and other EPCC student

volunteers showed up Saturday morning to

aid in the Rio Grande clean up.

Patricia Islas and Dr. Naomi Waissman, District-Wide Service Learning Program (SLP) Coordinators, spearheaded the adoption of the stretch of river through the city’s Adopt-A-River program. 

The program allows community groups like EPCC’s SLP to adopt a two-mile stretch of the Rio Grande River. 

“The International Boundary and Water Commission gave us the two-mile stretch, and it just so happens to be in the backyard of our Northwest campus,” Dr. Waissman said. “The SLP wanted to introduce more programs that were STEM-filled-related, so we are always actively looking for programs that encompass science and the environment. The beautiful thing about EPCC is there are five campuses spread out all over the city. We try to do things around every campus. With the location of the Rio Grande River being in our backyard, it worked out perfectly.”

Although the SLP started the project, biology professors Dr. Rebecca Escamilla and Dr. Jose Pacheco adopted the Rio Grande Cleanup as part of their service learning project.



“We started the project with 30 to 40 volunteers,” Dr. Waissman said, “but now that the professors have become involved, it’s tripled in size. More than 120 people were there on Saturday, and I attribute it all to their leadership. We have some really great faculty members.”



Photo by Isaac Viera/ Tejano Tribune

Jose Martinez and Christina Fierro are only able

to clean the surface due to the long term drought which the Rio Grande is currently experiencing.


Escamilla was in charge of the event on Saturday. She said the project creates a great volunteer opportunity for EPCC students.

“We try and entice them to come out with extra credit points,” Dr. Escamilla said, “but it also gives them an opportunity to see our environment and how we take it for granted sometimes, and they get to see just how dirty it can become.”  

The event is also a way for students to get points for their Tejano Passport, an EPCC program used to document students’ community participation and/or volunteer-ism to collect points toward their Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) graduation medallion. 

“We’ve hooked up with Tejano Passport for this volunteer project,” Dr. Escamilla said.  “We have the QR code for the students in attendance; they can scan it and add double the points to their Passport for this event.”

Lauren Watson and Andrea Rivera, freshmen in EPCC’s nursing program, heard about the volunteer opportunity through their biology teacher, Dr. Jose Pacheco.

“We are mainly here for the extra credit,” Watson said, “but I think it’s really important to help out our community in this way.”


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