Community Youth

TU RIVERS app inspires kids to clean up their local creek

After using the RIVERS app to identify a clogged culvert, a group of kids in Michigan returned to the site to remove the blockage.

By Jamie Vaughan

In Michigan, Trout Unlimited’s RIVERS App prompted a group of kids to join together to clean up their local creek.  

In August, Trout Unlimited staff had the opportunity to present the RIVERS App to educators in Michigan as part of the Groundswell Summer Institute, which introduces teachers to new resources and tools for place-based education. 

After learning about this new tool, Michigan educator Andrea Dudley went out to her local watershed to give the RIVERS App a try with her son, Hayes.  

They surveyed Silver Creek to identify any disturbances and to upload their findings into the app to help Trout Unlimited staff discover local watershed issues. 

While surveying the creek, they found a large grate where the creek goes underground that was clogged with debris and trash, blocking the flow of the creek. 

Andrea helped Hayes map this disturbance into the RIVERS App, but the Dudley family wanted to go a step further to care for their local creek. 

A couple days later, Andrea returned to the creek with her son Hayes, daughter Cora, and some neighborhood friends who were excited to take on this project to help Silver Creek. The friends cleaned out the grate of debris in just one hour and filled a bag with trash from the stream. Shortly after, they watched as a frog swam in the current as soon as the creek started flowing again.  

The kids compared clothes and argued over who had the most mud on them, and thanked Andrea for getting them there.

“We need to come back tomorrow to see what it looks like!” one exclaimed.  

Trout Unlimited is thankful to the Dudley family for taking care of their local creek and for all those who take their kids outside to learn, give back, and get a little muddy along the way. 

Jamie Vaughan is Trout Unlimited’s Rogue River Home Rivers Initiative project manager. To learn more about river restoration and conservation efforts in the Rouge River watershed, contact her at