In 2017, Samantha VanWechel-Meyer discovered a deep love of Minnesota’s lakes, rivers, and waterways, but she also discovered just how much trash finds its way into these beautiful places. Since then, it has been her passion project to clean up the waters surrounding her home in Fergus Falls, focusing especially on the Otter Tail River. Samantha describes the beauty of the river’s plants, wildlife, and water, saying that when she’s with the river, she’s at peace.
Samantha has found that her efforts improve not only the environment around her, but also her own personal wellbeing. She hopes to engage others with her efforts and help them understand the importance of the Otter Tail River through her social media presence, by organizing Otter Tail cleanup events, and by introducing her young children to the river and her efforts to protect it.
The problem of trash in waterways isn’t limited to the Otter Tail River, and Samantha recommends finding a grabber and a five gallon bucket and heading out to your own favorite waters. In her view, it all starts with a mindset change: it is each and every one of our jobs to care for the land around us, however we can.
Congratulations Samantha on being one of the 10 winners from across the state for your ongoing dedication to caring for Minnesota’s natural places.