Helping Out at White Rock Lake

Hockaday adopts a portion of the lake, opening up a new service opportunity for students

Hockaday adopted about half an acre of White Rock Lake’s shoreline this summer as part of the Adopt-a-Shoreline Program, in which organizations adopt a small portion of the lake’s shoreline and agree to keep it litter-free.

According to the White Rock Lake Foundation, White Rock Lake is the largest urban lake in the country.

The Adopt-A-Shoreline program is organized by the Dallas Park and Recreation Department and administered by the For the Love of the Lake organization. Before the organization was founded in 1996, the City of Dallas hosted a Trash Bash once a year. During the Trash Bash, volunteers gathered together to clean up the area around White Rock Lake.

But Lisa Akin, the current executive director of the For the Love of the Lake organization, said the event was “not near enough for keeping [the lake] clean and inviting. It had certain areas that would get quite smelly and uninviting.”

At the first Trash Bash, there was only a total attendance of 33 people. Now, there are a total of 7,000 to 8,000 people volunteering at the lake throughout the year.

Akin said that since the organization started cleaning the lake, 5,000 pounds of trash and 2,000 pounds of recyclable items have been picked up each month.

Laura Day, the Director of Service Learning at Hockaday, was interested in adopting a portion of the shoreline because she believed it was “an important civic duty” for Hockaday to be more environmentally friendly. Adopting a portion of the shoreline did not cost any money.

This school year, 10 Hockaday students signed up to volunteer at the lake on Sept. 14 on x2vol, the new community service hour tracking system that Hockaday adopted this school year. They joined 10 St. Mark’s students to clean up the lake from 9 to 11:30 a.m.

One of the Hockaday students who volunteered at the lake on Sept. 14, freshman boarder Annie Lin said, “I really enjoyed helping the lake and the people who exercise there. It was a great way to give back to the community.”

Students will be routinely volunteering at the lake the second Saturday of each month.

The lake officials appreciate the volunteers’ work; before the students begin cleaning, they are provided with a continental breakfast, which includes coffee, orange juice, milk, waffles, French toast and other foods.

“All the volunteers get energized before the lake cleanup,” Akin said.

The continental breakfast also provides enough time for registration for those first coming to volunteer at the lake.

After breakfast, students plant trees and pull out weeds around the lake.

The students are “just being good neighbors, good stewards in the environment,” Day said.

Hockaday and St. Mark’s are two of the 25 educational groups routinely helping out at White Rock Lake.

A total of 47 groups have adopted portions of the lake through the Adopt-A-Shoreline program, including schools like Lakehill Preparatory School and St. John’s Episcopal School.

Other groups from colleges, high schools and youth groups around Dallas such as Highland Park High School, Jesuit College Preparatory School and Southern Methodist University are not part of the adoption program but will participate in the monthly clean-up.

Once covered with empty beer cans and liquor bottles, the lake has evolved into an “oasis for millions of park visitors to enjoy throughout the year,” according to Akin. The thousands of volunteers involved with the For the Love of the Lake organization and the Adopt-A-Shoreline Program have helped facilitate this improvement.

“I think we’re going to enjoy the lake, but I think the service part is that we’re going to keep the lake clean,” Day said.

– Catherine Jiang