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Students working to clean up the St. Croix

Fourth-graders from left, back row Ella Cothran, Autumn Martin and Marie Gabriel, and front row Nora Fredrickson and Keira Thoreson, along with not pictured teammates Jozie Dale and Mallory Abrahamson, are working to make the St. Croix River area cleaner. They have selected litter as their challenge for Destination Imagination. Rebecca Mariscal / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
A fourth-grade Destination Imagination team is looking to make the St. Croix cleaner with their project. Team members hung these signs around downtown Hudson, reminding people to use their five fingers to pick up five pieces of trash. Submitted photo 2 / 2

Hudson fourth-graders are doing what they can to help make the St. Croix River a little cleaner, and they're looking for the community's help.

Members of the Octollamalopes Destination Imagination team have decided to make litter their challenge for this season. Destination Imagination is a national program that has teams take on open-ended academic challenges using their creativity, with solutions showcased at tournaments.

"We have to find a problem in our community and find out how to solve it," Cothran said.

Made up of Ella Cothran, Keira Thoreson, Autumn Martin, Nora Fredrickson, Marie Gabriel, Jozie Dale and Mallory Abrahamson, the team identified littering as that problem at the start of their season in October.

"We decided to start cleaning up the litter because it's really messy," Cothran said.

The girls saw firsthand how messy things were during a walk through Lakefront Park, where they picked up the trash that they found. Before launching their project, they also did research, setting up shop downtown to survey people on the topic of litter.

To confront this problem, the girls created signs with gloves attached to them, Martin explained. Each sign has a glove on it to remind those that see it that they have five fingers they can use to pick up at least five pieces of trash that they see.

"We want other people to help do that too," Fredrickson said.

They hung up the signs at different places around downtown Hudson.

They want the signs to not only motivate people to clean up, but to stop others from littering in the first place.

"I hope they make people think about it before they throw away trash and not do it," Thoreson said.

In addition to signs, the girls have created a website on their project, and have made a video about it as well.

The team will present the project at the regionals competition on Saturday, March 10 through a skit they've created. They use a TV prop to present a newscast that inspires the audience to get involved.

Part of the team participated last year, though a few girls joined this year for the first time. The team members all said they enjoy the creativity used during the competition, and the ability to choose their own focus.

"I like how you don't have a specific topic," Gabriel said. "You have a challenge and you can pick your topic."

Though the project started as part of Destination Imagination, the team plans to continue it beyond the competition. They've spoken with state parks and rangers to see what more they can do, including providing gloves for clean up and expanding to other towns.

To learn more about the Octollamalopes' project, visit

Rebecca Mariscal

Rebecca Mariscal joined the Hudson Star Observer as a reporter in 2016. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a degree in communication and journalism. 

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