Little Calumet River Day
The first weekend in June always has questionable weather; will it be damp and raining or hot and dry? This year it was not hot, but it was dry, extremely dry with the water levels low on the river. The good news is that with no current to fight on the return upstream to the Kickapoo boat launch, it made for an easy paddle. What started out as a river clean up about a dozen years ago, has now evolved into a full learning experience with various conservation entities joining into a partnership to focus on the Little Calumet River.
Not only do we continue to pull garbage out of the river, but this year we offered an introduction to kayaking, with an opportunity to learn about the birds that inhabit the river area. Deja Perkins, one of the founders of Black Birders week, participated in the event and joined us on the paddle, pointing out the various birds of the river. Bird expert Joseph Drew Lanham of Clemson University shared a poem called “flock of poems.” Education about the regions continued with a presentation by Malcolm Lyon Petty, a local high school student. He conducted a full presentation on the City of Robbins, Illinois airport (the site of which is within about 3 miles of our clean-up spot) and its contribution to producing Black aviators in the 1930’s, many of whom went on to become Tuskegee Airmen and help secure Allied victory in World War II.
The clean-up, the kayaking ride, and presentations offered the attendees a full range of events to participate in. To top it off, there was a great lunch spread from a local restaurant that really hit the spot after several hours on the water. The first weekend in June is now a traditional time to raise awareness to the Riverdale community of its great local outdoor resource, the Little Calumet River, and provides a free to low-cost way to connect with nature.