Working hard to keep Sikes Lake clean

Jeanette Perry

Brooks Rock (nursing senior) and Kassandra Alonso (nursing senior) at the Sikes lake clean up. Photo by Izziel Latour
Brooks Rock (nursing senior) and Kassandra Alonso (nursing senior) at the Sikes lake clean up. Photo by Izziel Latour

Trash and debris lined the shore of Sikes Lake as people arrived for the annual cleanup Sept. 10, as part of an opportunity for students to help make the lake an enjoyable place to visit.

Terry McKee, president of the Texas Master Naturalist Rolling Plains Chapter, helped organize Saturday’s event, one of a number of various projects the naturalists participate in each year.

“This is our eleventh year [of the Sikes Lake cleanup], so we’ve really had a lot of help from the Midwestern State University staff, McKee said. We’re always impressed by the number of students that come out to help clean up the lake.”

The naturalists are sponsored by the Texas Parks and Wildlife and the Texas Agrolife extension office. The Sikes Lake cleanup was originally started to give back to the community.

McKee said, “This is a way for us to give back to the community and to get the community involved in keeping our green spaces clean.”

Early morning preparations were supervised by Armando Muniz, MSU grounds maintenance superintendent. He has been a part of MSU’s participation in the Sikes Lake cleanup for the last seven years.

“In the last six or seven years we’ve provided the hotdogs, the chips, the bags, the pickers, table and tent,” Muniz said. “The naturalists provide some cookies, and some drinks as well.”

According to Muniz, about 30 to 40 students participate each year.

Muniz said, “There’s more involvement from the junior high kids that come out, but others also help.”

Kyle Owen, associate vice president of facilities services, was quick to point out that in recent years they’ve had more MSU student participation.

“The last few years we’ve had more MSU students and less junior high students,” Owen said. “It tends to be sports teams and there’s a few independents as well.”

Why is it important for students to become involved in an event like this?

“This is their university. This is their home,” Muniz said. “As a student you want to be proud of the fact that you have a clean campus and a clean lake, so people can come out and enjoy. I think that is why you should be more involved in cleaning the lake.”

McKee mentioned that it looks good on a student’s resume.

“Well, first off it looks good on your resume,” McKee said. “It gives you a good feeling when you come out and see all the the trash that has been accumulated and that you have helped to keep your community clean.”

Student Reactions:

Kevin Paniagua, exercise physiology senior, volunteered because he figured it would be a good way to spend his Saturday.

“I would have been sleeping in,” Paniagua said. “I’m coming out here and actually doing something good. Just helping to clean up and keep the lake beautiful.”

Some students came out initially for class credit but said they found a deeper sense of pride in volunteering.

Christine Aranda, nursing senior, said, “Well it does count for our class, you have to do a community service, but I always think it’s good to give back to the community just because they need all the help they can get.”

Katie Pendergrass, music junior, was helping as a part of the honors program.

Pendergrass said, “It’s a good opportunity to help make Wichita Falls more beautiful.”

While some students felt that it was important for growth as a person.

Pinkey Prince, finance senior, had a lot to say about the importance of volunteering and taking care of the university.

“It is not always all work,” Prince said. “I think that we need to go out and do something. It involves volunteering and that makes you a more holistic person and a better person in the future.”