The Dernogalizer

March 18, 2010

Pick Up America Embarks! (and there’s a testimony on the MD plastic bag fee)

Filed under: environment,MD Politics — Matt Dernoga @ 11:55 pm
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This is the third post in an extensive series of upcoming posts as my friend and UMD for Clean Energy alum Davey Rogner walks across America to reduce waste in our society.  If you would like to contact Davey, please e-mail

The Prince George’s Gazette’s David Hill had an article out on my friend Davey Rogner’s starts his walk across America this weekend.  I’ve posted it below.  Pick Up America also testified in favor of the Maryland plastic bag fee last week in Annapolis.  They made a video which I’ve posted above.

UM alumni begin journey to pick up litter

In 2006, Jeff Chen — then a student at the University of Maryland, College Park — had an idea while hiking at Yosemite National Park in California, after he and a friend had reached the end of an 8.5-mile trail.

“When we got to the top, we realized we had passed so much trash along the way,” Chen said. “We picked it all up [on the way back], and we were like, ‘Wow, we did it.'”

Chen thought if he could pick up trash for 8.5 miles, he might be able to do it for hundreds, or even thousands, of miles. That’s exactly what he’ll do starting Saturday, when he and three friends embark on Pick Up America, a cross-country anti-litter tour.

Their 3,600-mile journey starts Saturday at Assateague Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and will conclude in San Francisco in August 2011. Along the way, the group will conduct trash pick-ups in 13 states to highlight the importance of waste conservation.

“The whole idea is to bring the communities together and make art, make music and make all of this stuff instead of litter,” said Chen, who lives in Fulton and graduated from UM in 2008.

The group will host an environmental forum April 15 in College Park with student group UMD for Clean Energy and plans a community cleanup April 16 in Hyattsville.

Chen began planning the trip last year with Davey Rogner, a UM alum who graduated last spring. As students, the two helped form the UMD Student Sustainability Council, which advises the university on environmental issues. Rogner also helped lead a successful effort to stop the university from bulldozing nine acres of the wooded hillock, a 22-acre on-campus forest, for new maintenance facilities.

Chen and Rogner will be joined by friends Kelly Klein of Columbia and Kim Alexander of Silver Spring. The four will travel by recreational vehicle through Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Virginia; West Virginia; Kentucky; Ohio; Indiana; Illinois; Missouri; Kansas; Colorado; Utah; Nevada and California.

“I think they are an inspiration, because they come up with ideas and get them accomplished,” said College Park Mayor Andrew Fellows, who spoke at a Pick Up America fundraiser March 4 in Sandy Spring in Montgomery County. “A lot of us only think of things and don’t actually do them.”

Some days will be dedicated to walking and trash pick-up, Rogner said, while others will include travel, presentations and public appearances. The group will also tour this spring with singer-songwriter Ben Harper, play their own music and display art mostly supplied by friends at each stop.

“People respond a lot better toward active learning, so to put it out in art or pick up trash is a lot more effective,” Alexander said. “It’s hands-on instead of sitting around talking about it.”

Rogner said he expects the trip to cost $80,000, including transportation, insurance, phone and Internet costs. The group hopes to raise $5,500 by the start of their trip and they netted more than $3,000 at their March 4 fundraiser.

“This walk is completely aligned with everything that I am and everything I do,” said Rogner, who lives in White Oak. “Hopefully, there will be other people who are inspired and want to take action on their own.”

For more information on Pick Up America, visit


1 Comment »

  1. […] Humanity of Frederick Maryland Heartland Sustainable Living Fair Master Gardeners No Frills Fancy Pick Up America Renewal by Anderson Schwind Systems Sierra Club, Catoctin Group Standard Solar Sustainability […]

    Pingback by 2010 WasteNot! Expo — April 1, 2010 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

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