Pearl River Central NJROTC cadets take to the streets to fight litter

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Over 20 Pearl River Central NJROTC students volunteered to clean up litter on the side of a busy section of Highway 11 on Saturday, picking items up from water bottles to tires.

Over 20 Pearl River Central NJROTC students volunteered to clean up litter on the side of a busy section of Highway 11 on Saturday, picking items up from water bottles to tires.

At their own initiative, 24 Navy Junior ROTC students from Pearl River Central High School came together to clean up one of the most littered areas in Picayune on Highway 11 near Friendship Park.
“There are things like tires out there that people just leave on the side of the road,” Todd Ryder, PRC NJROTC’s senior Naval science instructor, said. “It almost seems like the majority of the community just dumps out their bottles there too.”
On Saturday, members of the PRC NJROTC picked up trash for a mile of the highway and Memorial Boulevard, which took about four hours.
“This is a great opportunity for these students to take what they learn about leadership and many other things in the classroom and put it to action in the real world,” Ryder said.
Six times a year, or three times per semester, the NJROTC at PRCHS serve the community as great humanitarians to build on the values taught in the NJROTC classroom, Ryder said.
PRC NJROTC members perform these efforts out of the kindness of their hearts, he said.
“We are doing this because we want to make a difference,” Jeremy Draughon, PRC NJROTC member said. “It amazes me how many people show up to clean up the roads. No one wants to be cleaning garbage on a Saturday afternoon, but seeing everyone come together to help the community is a very selfless act and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of that team.”
For Ryder, there are three benefits from any community service event. First, it’s a great chance to implement one of the most important lessons taught in ROTC, service above self. Ryder said this means to do something worthwhile, knowing that the only reward is the joy of helping a community and making the community a better place to live.
Second, Ryder said leadership skills are put into practice.
“They plan out and set to accomplish a real-life mission. A lot of work goes into something like this and once we set out a mission, we are tasked to complete it and man do these kids do a great job at working together,” Ryder said. “They are always eager to get started on the next community service event and sometimes they inspire me.”
Finally, each NJROTC participant of a community service event gets credit for his or her service. They are awarded with a ribbon, which can unlock opportunities to move up the ranks. Also, these community service events help students apply for college scholarships or build upon their resume, Ryder said.
Other community service events the PRC NJROTC participates in are the flood relief acts in August to help those affected in Louisiana as well as helping package and deliver food for Manna Ministries clients, Ryder said.
They also help escort Pearl River County ARC beauty pageant contestants during their Beauty and Bows event and help out during the ARC’s Special Olympics event in April.