IOWA CITY — The value of a volunteer’s time in Iowa is about $22 per hour, according to the Corporation for National and Community Service’s online database.
So when a couple dozen volunteers showed up to clear invasive species from the Iowa River Trail for three hours Sunday, the work was very valuable to Iowa City.
Carol Sweeting, the city’s public works information coordinator, said the volunteers helped with work city staff wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to.
The event was the first of four clean up projects the city’s stormwater department has planned this month as part of its volunteer program. City officials are asking for help doing the same work on the trail the next three Sundays.
“(Volunteers) get to get out on a great Sunday afternoon,” Sweeting said. “There’s plenty of room. This is family friendly. We can find a job for anyone.”
The majority of volunteers Sunday were from the Chinese Iowa City student group. Taishen Di, president of the group, said the volunteer opportunity not only helped members get involved with their community but also increased the visibility of their group.
“Charity to the community is very meaningful to us,” Di said.
Vivi Wu, a member of the group, said she enjoyed the work because it was a way to spend free time during the weekends and help the people who use the trail.
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“I personally kind of like being a volunteer, doing meaningful things to help the community,” Wu said.
The volunteer program occurs every April and October. Sweeting said, on average, volunteers clear between four and five tons of trash or invasive species on each project day and it is recycled or composted.
Sweeting said volunteers in the program learn about invasive species.
She said the city clears these species because they block sunlight and don’t allow grasses to grow. Once these species are cleared, the grasses can help prevent soil erosion, especially during flooding.
Those who want to help from noon to 3 p.m. any of the next three Sundays can sign up on the City of Iowa City Stormwater Volunteer Facebook page. Volunteers should meet just before noon in the Streets Division Parking lot at 3800 Napoleon Lane.
Volunteers are asked to wear closed-toe shoes and long pants and sleeves. Drinking water, tools and gloves are provided by the city.