It takes dedication to wade waist deep in a murky pond by the side of the road on a blistering summer day.
But it takes courage to continue wading after an unidentified animal is spotted scurrying about at the bottom of said pond.
This is exactly what volunteers with the groups Arlingtonians for a Clean Enviroment and Community Role Models did this weekend at Beaver Pond in Ballston. They gathered at the little-known pond to pick up trash and make the area livable for the beavers, blackbirds, muskrats and ducks that call it home.
Located in an obscured area between I-66 and Fairfax Drive, the man-made pond was created to collect storm water run off from the highway. Since its creation, however, a variety of animals have come to live in it.
"It was built as a throwaway," said Elenor Hodges, executive director of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment, "But the beavers made it a habitat."
Communty Role Models Chairman and event organizer Miles Grant said that cleaning up the pond gave volunteers an opportunity to see the fruits of their labor.
"A lot of people tend to measure success by tangible differences," Grant said. He added that there was an added appeal to the clean up because, "How often do you get to swim around in a pond?"
Arlingtonians for a Clean Enviroment was founded 30 years ago to push for environmentally sustainable policies on the county level and to educate the people of Arlington about environmental issues.
For this event they teamed up with Community Role Models, a county program that seeks to engage young people in the county and to encourage volunteerism. Founded three years ago, the program now has a volunteer base of more than 1,000 young adults.
THE BEAVER POND clean up project drew roughly a dozen volunteers, perhaps because of the odiousness of the pond itself.
Tall grass covered the majority of the pond, as did a slimy, bright green substance. Mosquitoes the size of chick peas wafted about while soaring humidity turned the area into an outdoor sauna.
Despite all this, the volunteers, mostly in their twenties and thirties, were cheerful and enthusiastic.
Several put on thigh-high rubber galoshes and waded right into the water, picking up trash with their hands and putting it in large plastic bags.
"I’m just trying to get out and help a little bit," said Dave Keller, one of the initial waders.
While picking up trash at the shore of the pond, Keller and fellow volunteer Brendan O’Conner noticed something moving at their feet. Grant had said earlier that all the beavers in the pond were gone but it appeared as though one of them had decided to stay for the summer.
Undeterred, Dan Silverman and Kathy Reding grabbed a couple of oars, climbed in a small vessel and roweds out into the middle of the pond to pick up more trash.
"This is the best event ever," Grant said. "We’ve never put people in an inflatable canoe before."
"Don’t get bit by the beaver!" he called out at Silverman and Reding as they pushed off to sea.