Christy Pollock and Mark Merritt with the Directorate of Public Works' Environmental Division, paddle their watercraft made of recycleable materials during the Recycle Regatta held May 20 at Weston Lake on Fort Jackson. The regatta was part of the opening kickoff ceremony for Weston Lake. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

Jackson rows into summer on recycled rafts

By Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Fort Jackson recycled an old favorite to help kick off the start of summer and the re-opening of Weston Lake.

“We started it prior to the flood of 2015,” said Lisa McKnight, hazardous substance program manager and environmental training coordinator. She added the purpose is to increase community involvement, enjoy the many resources available at Fort Jackson and, of course, reusing and recycling previously- used materials in creative ways.

Nine years ago, when the Recycle Regatta was in full swing, teams found themselves in the middle of a lake in a boat that didn’t look like it would hold two people, let alone help them float across the finish line.

Fast forward to May 20, 2023, and again, teams found themselves on rafts with paddles, struggling and striving to get their make-shift rafts across the finish line.

Each self-propelled raft was constructed with previously used materials, minus bonding materials such as tape or rope. All rafts had to be named, have a handmade “vessel in distress” flag and be able to carry at least two crew members.

“We made (our boat) out of two plastic drums and four jugs that we attached to the sides for outriggers,” said Christy Pollock from the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division. Pollock, along with her teammate Mark Merritt, won the Recycle Regatta boating competition in a boat they constructed for Col. Ryan Hanson, the garrison commander.

“You can always find creative uses of reusing and recycling materials in ways that maybe you may not expect,” Merritt said. “I think that’s what this is about.”

McKnight agreed, saying the purpose was to keep things out of the landfill and to see how much fun you can have with things that you already own.

If you missed all of the action, don’t fret. “We are planning on starting

around the same time next year,” McKnight said. “Getting a little more boats out there and get a little more community involvement. So, we’re hoping to have more and get as good as we were in 2014.”

The next recycling event is the shred day on June 13. For more information, contact the Fort Jackson Recycling Center at 751-4208 or Lisa McKnight at (803) 319-4618.