Christmas Break Activity: Explore Revealed Shorelines and Remove Litter on Your Own!

Low river levels in the winter provide a great cleanup opportunity—a fun way to get out on Christmas break!

Low river levels in the winter provide a great cleanup opportunity—a fun way to get out on Christmas break!

Are the kids getting restless towards the end of Christmas break? Looking for an active, fun, educational activity to do before getting back into the routine?

We’ve got the perfect solution for you! 

It’s winter, so water levels of our river, lakes, and creeks are at their lowest. This is the perfect chance to take the kids out in nature and teach them how to be good stewards of our waterways by collecting litter from public park shorelines.

There’s nothing like an adventure of roaming the unveiled riverbeds where water is clearly supposed to be! Picking up litter along the way just adds more merit to your experience.


Be sure to bring boots or waders (closed toe shoes at the very least) that you won’t mind getting muddy. It’s also important to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.

Here’s a quick list for a litter collection kit with which you can equip your group to make the most impact:

  • Litter grabbers

  • Work gloves

  • Garbage bags (be sure to differentiate trash vs. recycling)

  • Hand sanitizer (for when you’re finished)

Please be sure to share with us photos from your litter cleanup adventure, including where you explored as well as your litter loot totals! We’ll share them on social media to inspire others.

If your group has so much fun that you want to do it again, consider participating in our Adopt a River Mile program. It’s free, and we will provide cleanup supplies. We’ll even provide a free metal sign crediting your group for the river mile’s cleanly improvements!

Click HERE to read more about our Adopt a River Mile program and sign up today!

KTNRB Board Announces New Executive Director

Kathleen Gibi

Kathleen Gibi

The Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful Board of Directors is pleased to announce Kathleen Gibi, who has long served as Public Affairs Specialist for the City of Knoxville, Tennessee, as its new Executive Director.

Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful (KTNRB) is the first Keep America Beautiful affiliate in the nation to solely focus on a river. The non-profit has already rallied 703 volunteers to remove 55,655 pounds of trash from the river in its first three years, hosting cleanups in Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Mississippi. 

“Protecting the beauty of our river doesn't happen by accident—regional and local action are key to conserving the Tennessee River waterways,” said Julie Graham, Board President and Executive Director of the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council. “KTNRB serves as the regional entity to connect the local efforts.”

The KTNRB non-profit started shortly after Keep Tennessee Beautiful and the Tennessee Valley Authority sponsored Living Lands & Waters' Tennessee River Tour in 2015, which Gibi helped to conceptualize and implement. The tour stopped along six cities within three states as the Living Lands and Waters barge showcased trash removed from river cleanups along the way.

KTNB and TVA wanted to continue the work of Living Lands & Waters and created Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, working in communities along the river’s 652-mile stretch to preserve, improve, and protect the river for generations to come. 

Living Lands & Waters barge docked at Volunteer Landing in Knoxville, Tennessee during the 2015 Tennessee River Tour.

“We were all inspired by the collaborative energy that we experienced through the Tennessee River Tour, and we wanted to make sure to keep the momentum going,” said Missy Marshall, Executive Director of Keep Tennessee Beautiful. “Our team at Keep Tennessee Beautiful is eager to continue increasing our efforts together with our strong partners as we work to protect and beautify our river.”

Volunteers at a KTNRB cleanup held in October 2018.

Volunteers at a KTNRB cleanup held in October 2018.

Gibi is following the organization’s original Executive Director, Laura Howard, who has led KTNRB since its inception and currently serves as Environment Health & Safety Manager/Recycling Coordinator at Sevier Solid Waste, Inc. Howard will continue to serve on the KTNRB Board of Directors.

Laura Howard (left) and volunteer Lucretia Embry show off soccer ball treasures found in a KTNRB cleanup..

Laura Howard (left) and volunteer Lucretia Embry show off soccer ball treasures found in a KTNRB cleanup..

Gibi has served as Public Affairs Specialist at the City of Knoxville since 2004, first working in the Parks and Recreation Department under then Mayor (now Tennessee Governor) Bill Haslam and then moving to the Communications Department under Mayor Madeline Rogero. 

In 2015, the National League of Cities named Gibi as its Most Dedicated Staff Award recipient, a distinction she earned for her local collaborative efforts for First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative (in which Knoxville and Knox County were ranked no. 1 in the nation). 

In her role with City of Knoxville Communications, Gibi has worked on communications for the Public Works Department, which included Parks and Recreation, Engineering, Public Service, Fleet Services, and Plans Review and Inspections. In Knoxville, she is responsible for initiating and organizing programs such as the Tennessee River Tour, the annual Father’s Day Fishing Event, the CrossKnox Race, and Neighborhoods to Nature.

“We owe so much to the Tennessee River—it’s a foundation for our economy, our health, and our culture,” Gibi said. “I’m looking forward to KTNRB collaborating with many regional partners along the Tennessee River in a continued effort to preserve its beauty and worth.”

KTNRB currently holds four annual river cleanups with assistance from Living Lands & Waters. The organization also coordinates an Adopt-a-River-Mile program.

For more information, visit

Kathleen Gibi
865.386.3926 (cell)
Twitter: @TNRiverBeautiful