RAWLINS — Wednesday saw students at the Carbon County Higher Education Center clean the several-mile stretch of sagebrush surrounding the building in an effort to improve the environment.

The event saw every staff member and student with classes at the Higher Education Center participate instead of attending classes for the day, which allowed a massive work party to be gathered.

“We just wanted to do something good for Earth Day,” said Jennifer Moore, student services coordinator at the Higher Education Center.

According to Moore, cleanups in celebration of the date have been common for years, but they have been exclusively staff events. This year, they wanted to expand their impact to the students, while also being able to clean a wider swath of land than the smaller parties of staff members could hope to accomplish.

Planning for the event began roughly a month ago, with the city of Rawlins donating the reflective vests, gloves, and trash bags. In addition, several announcements were made in advance to encourage students to dress appropriately for a day spent among the sagebrush.

The original cleanup day of Monday was postponed due to poor weather, resulting in some forgetting their impending time spent outside. Others simply never received the message of a scheduled cleanup, leaving some underdressed for the occasion.

Mikalah Durst was one such student saying, “I didn’t even know it was supposed to happen.” She emphatically said if she had know of the cleanup, she would have worn long pants and a long-sleeve shirt rather than her shorts and T-shirt she spent the day shivering in.

Despite some small setbacks, students were happy with a day spent helping the environment, but most were far more excited at the prospect of time away from studying.

“I’d rather be doing this than sitting in class,” said Angeles Lambert.

A sentiment echoed by nearly every student slowly scouring the sagebrush for discarded trash.

Others were far more enthusiastic about removing waste from the hills of Rawlins, believing it to be an immense boon to the community as more people take to the walking paths.

“It makes Rawlins look a lot prettier right before people start going outside,” said Ben Lopez.

“I think it’s awesome to do a little bit for the community,” said Cody Gonzalez.

“It’s helping the environment and it’s great for the community service,” exclaimed Caleb Bangs.

Samantha Waring, an avid environmentalist, furthered the sentiment, “I like helping the earth and I was really glad that they chose to do this.

Waring has always enjoyed similar projects and actively encouraged her teammates to participate in the day’s trash removal.

While every student heaped praise upon the event’s goals, some wished the day away from classes had come from Rawlins High School rather than the Higher Education Center.

“I’d rather be doing actual work inside on vehicles and learning stuff we’re going to need in life,” said Jason Black.

While Black said he adamantly supported the cleanup, he felt his time at the Carbon County Higher Education Center greatly helped him in pursuit of his hoped future as a mechanic.

Another student proposed cleanups occur more often, but used as punishment for those struggling to meet the school’s academic requirements. While he supported the event, he felt the time away from school hampered his learning experience.

As dual-enrollment classes are also held at the Higher Education Center, several participants felt frustrated at a lost day with finals rapidly approaching, along with major projects coming due as the college semester winds to a close.

While the details drew some student criticism, everyone approved of the cleanup and hoped the event would continue, though the exact form of future cleanups were debated.

This first student Earth Day cleanup was judged to be successful and covered much more ground, far faster than the staff expected.

The Higher Education Center staff expressed hope for a long future of Earth Day cleanups and hopes the event may grow even larger.

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