SOMERSET, KY – #TrashtagChallenge is viral on social media worldwide, and a local version is sweeping across McCreary County – and hopefully the rest of southern and eastern Kentucky.
“These challenges are easy and fun, but they make a huge difference, so we are launching #TrashtagChallengePRIDE,” explained Tammie Nazario of PRIDE, the nonprofit organization that promotes environmental education and cleanup activities in 42 Kentucky counties.
“Just pick a spot that is ugly with litter, clean it up, and then post before and after photos with #TrashtagChallengePRIDE,” Nazario said.
“Since April is PRIDE Spring Cleanup Month, you can add #PRIDESpringCleanup and #Volunteer to your pictures to remind your friends to get out outside and help our communities remove the trash piled up by recent flood waters and winds,” she said.
“You also can use #3BagChallenge so a great group of kids in McCreary County will know that you are following their lead,” Nazario added.
#3BagChallenge was launched in McCreary County by Pine Knot Elementary teacher Tara Tucker with her fifth-grade social studies students on March 18, 2019. In a letter to parents, Tucker challenged students – accompanied by adults – to pick up three bags of trash. She asked parents to take pictures of the students at work and with their filled trash bags. The photos were sent to Tucker or shared on social media with #3BagChallenge. PRIDE provided trash bags, gloves and safety vests for students.
By March 29, 36 students had joined the challenge, and 291 bags of roadside litter had been collected. Every participating student was rewarded with a pizza party and medal. A search for #3BagChallenge on Facebook reveals smiling, triumphant faces beside mounds of trash bags.
Lillian Marnhout, one of Tucker’s students, went well beyond the goal of three bags. She filled 58 trash bags with roadside litter.
If Marnhout could talk to other Kentucky students about following the example set by Pine Knot Elementary, she would tell them, “Other students should pick up garbage because it helps the environment and makes our community look prettier.”
“The #3BagChallenge movement has rapidly grown within our community, and I have been overwhelmed with people contacting me about it,” Tucker said. “My hope is that this continues to grow and, even with the end date being the 29th for the rewards, that the students carry this with them for the rest of their lives!”
#3BagChallenge began with Tucker’s lesson on civic responsibility, which includes volunteering. The lesson has gone well beyond the classroom.
“Although I do want my students to perform well on the state standardized test known as KPREP, I also want my students to take valuable lessons away from my class,” Tucker said. “Something as simple as picking up garbage can stay with them for the rest of their lives. I’ve already had students say that they got onto people they were riding with who threw trash out the window.”
“These students are more than a test score to me,” Tucker added. “They’re my future, and they’re your future. Why not instill in them these ideas that will stay with them forever?”
“Ms. Tucker is showing exemplary leadership in this challenge,” said Nazario, who present an appreciation certificate to Tucker during the school’s #3bagchallenge celebration on March 29. “She saw a great opportunity to do something positive using social media outlets, and she embraced it.”
“I am so proud of the students for their hard work,” Nazario said. “They are making a visible difference in their community, and they are inspiring other people to treat their environment better.”
“I challenge citizens of all ages to follow their example,” Nazario added. “If you would like more information from PRIDE, please call us, toll free, at 888-577-4339, or look for Eastern Kentucky PRIDE on Facebook. Our website is www.kypride.org.”
Local support for the #3BagChallenge project included the McCreary County Fiscal Court, which collected and disposed of the bags filled by students. United Cumberland Bank made a donation so Tucker could give medals to the participating students.
Sponsors of the region-wide PRIDE Spring Cleanup Month are Walmart and Outdoor Venture Corporation.