When Ashton Young was in search of volunteer opportunities as a second-year DCG student, she found that the answer was blowing in the wind.
Actually, trash was blowing in the wind, and she immediately rolled up her sleeves to help clean up the community.
In 2021, Ashton, who will begin her senior year of dental school this fall, formed the DCG Environmental Club to tidy public areas and encourage recycling.
Since its inception, the group’s approximately 80 members have collected over 2,000 pounds of trash in the Augusta area. The volunteers assist Savannah Riverkeeper, a local nonprofit group committed to a clean and healthy river, and have added other cleanup sites as well, including the Savannah River Canal, North Augusta Greeneway and downtown Augusta.
“We’ve collected trash in lots of areas, but we’re definitely drawn to the water to prevent the spread of pollution throughout the ecosystem,” Ashton says. “We have the most fun when we get in kayaks and actually clean the river itself.”
Her dedication to the environment is a lifelong passion. “I lived in Big Sky, Montana, before dental school and it really opened my eyes to how important it is to help preserve the beauty and nature we do have,” Ashton says. “It’s also important for students to take a break, get outside and enjoy the outdoors. It’s an incredible way to give back to the community.”
The club’s other initiatives include posting reduce/recycle/reuse fliers in DCG labs and hosting a fundraiser selling succulent plants and reusable bags. “The bags can be used in grocery stores and even carrying supplies in clinic,” Ashton says.