PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Dozens volunteered their time for the Illinois River Sweep on Saturday.

The sweep is a partnership between the Forest Park Nature Center and Peoria Park District,

“We have close to 80 something volunteers out cleaning publicly owned sites along the river,” Kristi Shoemaker, Chief Naturalist for the Forest Park Nature Center, said.

Shoemaker said the river sweep has been going on for more than 15 years. She said the river has many uses so it’s important to keep it clean.

“For one it’s our source of drinking water,” Shoemaker said. “It’s also a place where people do recreation. We have a lot go hiking or fishing along the river.”

Shoemaker also said the river provides critical wildlife habitat, especially for migratory birds and fish.

Saturday’s clean-up was also an important moment for newcomer Olivia Smith.

The Bradley University student said she came with Tri Beta a biology honor society. Smith said she felt called to the cause.

“I don’t see why I would say no because I’m from Peoria and I know it needs to be cleaned up a little bit,” Smith said.

Smith said she’s proud to help keep parts of her hometown clean, even though she was caught off guard by the amount of trash laying around.

“It’s kind of shocking to see so much stuff all around but it feels good to be able to do something about it,” Smith said.