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WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 23, 2012, 09:34 PM

AmeriCorp cleans up the Red River

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Low water levels combined with dry conditions have made this a perfect summer to clean up the Red River, and a volunteer force from across the country is doing just that.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) -- Low water levels combined with dry conditions have made this a perfect summer to clean up the Red River, and a volunteer force from across the country is doing just that.

Most young adults and college graduates are employed or looking for jobs trying to pay off mounting debt and exorbitant student loans. Not this group. They're spending their summer here in Fargo, giving back in anyway possible.

Day after day, pile after pile, this Americorp team is making a healthier, safer Red River. For 10 weeks, it's this 10 member team's full time job. Many of them are thousands of miles from the state they call home.

Billy Gonsler - AmeriCorps NCCC: "I've never been to North Dakota, just heard of a "Fargo" movie. Still haven't watched that yet."

Billy Gonsler is a recent college graduate from Flint, Michigan. This isn't exactly where you'd expect to find the Finance major.

Billy Gonsler: "Back in 2008 it was finance and accounting. I wanted to make a lot of money and do that and have enough for my family, but I really took a look and had a change of heart and realized there was more to life than this."

Texas native Benjamin just received his degree in Geography from the University of New Mexico.

Benjamin Paulson - AmeriCorps NCCC: "It's been so much fun. I've never been to the Midwest."

He hopes to parlay this into a career with the government.

Benjamin Paulson: "I enjoy the travel and seeing new places, meeting new people and working with new organizations."

The garbage, the debris, the mountains of invasive plants. It may seem like a daunting task, but there's something to be said for the before and the after.

Billy Gonsler: "It's been four or five years since they really had this opportunity, so we do this and we find garbage, clean that up and just try to get it back to how it looked in the past."

It's not all they're doing in Fargo. The group is also helping out with Churches United and Habitat for Humanity.

Billy Gonsler: "We'll go help across the world, but sometimes we forget about ourselves, so I think this is a great program where you can travel and just help out in our own backyards."

The volunteers live in a city-owned-house across from the Gladys Ray Shelter. When they're done every day with this grueling manual labor, they head home to do repairs on the house; fixing it up so that when they leave a low-income family can move into safe, comfortable home.

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