The Iowan
looking for something?

Potluck: Project AWARE

Compiled by Carol Bodensteiner and Mary Gottschalk

Wet, Dirty & Passionate

With 72,000 miles of rivers and streams within the state’s borders, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is always asking “How do we get people excited about water quality?” Its answer: Get people wet and dirty.

Inspired by the Living Lands & Waters project on the Mississippi River, the DNR launched Project AWARE (A Watershed Awareness River Expedition) in 2003.

Project AWARE invites volunteers to spend a day or a week each year getting wet and dirty as they clean up a stretch of waterway.

The project’s first nine years have inspired 2,152 volunteers to paddle and walk 702 miles of river and collect 181 tons (320 cubic yards) of trash.

“We leave the rivers more wild, more scenic,” says DNR’s Brian Soenen. “But the greater impact — the magic — is that volunteers walk away with a renewed appreciation for what we have, how important the waterways are as a resource to our economy and to our lives.”

Project Aware embarks on its 10th year in 2012. From July 7–14, volunteers in kayaks, canoes, and walking shoes will tackle 93.6 miles along the Iowa River in Wright, Franklin, Hardin and Marshall Counties. — C.B.

To get involved, visit

Photo courtesy Iowa DNR 


All content © 2017 The Iowan/Pioneer Communications, Inc., and may not be used, reproduced, or altered in any way without prior written permission.