Facebook Icon Twitter Icon YouTube Icon Pintrest Icon Flickr Google Plus Icon Email Icon

R.J. Cook - Volunteer Spotlight - May 2010

R.J. Cook of Tahlequah is being honored in the Keep Oklahoma Beautiful “Volunteer Spotlight” during May.

Tired of hearing “I just throw my trash out the window, it gives the inmates something to do,” R.J. Cook decided to take action. For the past six years, he has taken it upon himself to clean up the illegal dumps near his farm. In just this year, R.J. and a handful of others have removed 2 trucks, 2 engine blocks, some iron pieces about 2-inches thick, vending machines and much more totaling to well over 10,000 lbs of discarded junk.

For R.J., eradicating the dumps was a step in the right direction; however, he felt like he could take it one step further. At the site of a former illegal dumpsite, R.J. and several others have transformed the land into an organic garden. They had to plow the area about 20 times to ensure that all of the bed springs, shoes and other items where out of the ground prior to planting. In addition to this garden, they have transformed other illegal dumps into community camp grounds, gardens and orchards. He has planted more than twenty new fruit trees on these “recycled sites.” Soon, there will be apples, peaches, pears, plums and apricots in the place of discarded car parts, rusty hot water tanks and broken fruit jars.

“As much as we would like to go bare foot in these places,” commented R.J., “we never will be able to because of all the broken glass and buried steel fragments that come out of the ground every time it rains. But, it is still beautiful and we really get a lot of enjoyment out of all the recreational areas we have created by cleaning up, plowing, tilling, harrowing and planting grass, gardens and fruit orchards. Talk about recycling! This entire area has been recycled...from nasty and illegal dumpsites to free family leisure sites for the community to enjoy.”

Click here to view pictures of R.J.'s amazing work.

Would you like to nominate someone from your organization? All we need is a brief description of the nominee’s work (250 words or less) and at least one head and shoulders photograph. Nominations will be accepted only online and that process can start by clicking here.