Josh Mayfield Natural State Awareness Project

S3E2: Josh Mayfield Natural State Awareness Project

Conway Institute of Music

In today’s episode, we visit with Josh Mayfield of Natural State Awareness Project to talk about ways citizens can help keep our area clean and beautiful.

SHOW NOTES

https://www.instagram.com/jm4peace/

https://vimeo.com/710149188

Josh talks about how you can be a part of cleaning up your community.


Transcript

00:00.00
tejones
Hey, everyone welcome to the show I’m your host Todd Jones and today on the show I have Josh Mayfield from the natural state awareness project in the Saltillo area um to come on and talk a little bit about what. The project is and how you could be a part of it as a someone who might be interested in conservation. Josh welcome to the show tell us a little bit about yourself. I know you said you grew up in the area. Maybe even and I went to school at uca.

00:25.76
Josh
Hello Thanks for having me.

00:33.97
Josh
Yes, I graduated from Uca in 2015? Um I basically grew up in Faulkner County um, went to school at St Joseph High School. And um, pretty much lived in the Saltillo area. So Lake Conway has always been pretty important to me and just that whole area in general has always been pretty significant.

01:06.27
tejones
For for those listing who maybe don’t know about really where Saltillo is can you give us a little bit of a geographical frame of reference.

01:15.79
Josh
Of course Salilo has Lake Conway. I also like to tell people it also sits in the middle of 3 areas: Conway Mayflower Vilonia and it encompasses a lot of. Townships that are relevant to Conway Valonia Mayflower and um, it particularly is relevant to mayflower in Conway because of Lake Conway. So when I think of Lake Conway, I instantly think of Mayflower and Conway.

01:50.97
tejones
If you were driving from Conway to Saltillo How would you know what direction? How would you go to get to the Saltillo area?

01:59.20
Josh
I would um, always recommend 1 of the highways either Highway 365 if you’re going towards mayflower or highway 26 if you’re going to be coming from Conway because Dave Ward turns into highway 88

02:15.50
tejones
Right.

02:17.18
Josh
So you you take Dave Ward East and you’re going to run into highway 26 and that is the best way to get to Saltillo if you’re going to go on highway through 65 you would have to know where to turn there’s a turn you would need to make um, otherwise you might miss it.

02:32.67
tejones
Yeah I was thinking it’s north of I 40 right? and north of the I 40 so you grew up in the Saltillo area. So can you tell us a little bit about why that area and Lake Conway is so important to you.

02:36.00
Josh
I should be.

02:49.49
Josh
Yeah, um I think ah having a body of water. Ah next to where I was living was pretty special ah being able to just walk down the lake or ah. Just being able to get out on the lake I’m ah I’m a kayaker I like kayaking so if I can get out kayak that that that’s a good day for me. Um, it also allowed me to interact with the Arkansas game and fish at a pretty young age. Um, actually I have a story to tell you one night when I went down to the game and fish docked it. It wasn’t too late, but it was night during night time I was just kind of down there walking around just sort of taking everything in a nice atmosphere. And the game in fish pulled up and won their trucks and told me they asked me politely to leave because they were trying to catch some people who were illegally fishing. I’m not sure what exactly they were doing fishing-wise. But this had a big impact on me because I was around sixteen I know because I Joe was able to drive down there so I was 16 and um I realized you know that? um, that’s sort of the beginning of how I started thinking about it. Safety and environmental issues that affect lake conway and it also gave me a chance to interact with the game and fish even though it was kind of under awkward circumstances. They were still very kind to me. They really were so that left a big impact on me too.

04:25.13
tejones
Yeah, and now I hadn’t you know I’ve been in Conway since 2010 and you had we had the old spill in the mayflower area. So Lake Conway’s definitely seen a share of challenges I should say and I would imagine that affected the Saltillo area as well.

04:42.39
Josh
Yes, it did. I’ve actually had people from outside of Conway tell me that they had heard about that when they hear Lake Conway the One thing they think is oh, that’s where they all spill happen so it definitely had a big impact.

04:55.69
tejones
Yeah, so you were 16 when you had the interaction with the game in fish and and yeah you finished high school when you went on to college and you you know come back.

05:04.32
Josh
But around 16 Yeah.

05:13.42
tejones
When did you decide that you knew you wanted to be a part of trying to help um Lake Conway and the Saltillo area maybe be cleaner and and ah better than how was left for you.

05:25.89
Josh
That came I’d say several years later when I came to the idea that I wanted to lead and organize a volunteer project. Um I was. Pretty pretty inspired to do something at the end of 2019 um none is when the thought process got going and then I started working with an organization called operation home front. It’s a nonprofit that services military families and they have several programs. Um that ah ah, cater to active military members and their families and um. I did a lot of operations work with them that was sort of what they brought me on to do helped facilitate their operations and ah try to try to get their name out there in Faulkner County and the greater Arkansas State um because they don’t have much of a presence in Arkansas they’re they’re based in Atlanta and then the region that I was working with was based in San Antonio um so they’re they’re very nationwide. Um, but they don’t have much of a presence in Arkansas so they wanted me to help them with that as well. So that’s sort of where the volunteering aspect came into everything because I worked with them as a volunteer and then hurricane ida came in 2020 and um. That had a really big impact on me because severe weather has always been a major concern of mine and um, hurricane ida did a lot of damage to the global economy. Well maybe not the global economy per se. But. It definitely affected the American economy which also reverberated globally. Um, so hurricane ida was a major blow to a lot of economic activity and so that’s where the severe weather aspect came into it. So. What I’m getting at is that I already had the volunteering experience going and then hurricane ida came and that’s when I started thinking about severe weather and that’s when I realized all I really need to do now is just set a target community.

08:05.66
Josh
And that turret community I chose a Saltillo of course because that’s the one I’m most familiar with that’s the one I know the most people in and it’s relatively small and maybe we’ll get into this later but anyone who is leading organizing a volunteer project needs to try to keep things as small as possible. Um. So. That’s why I recommend reaching out to as many people as possible but with the goal in mind that you’re only going to end up working with maybe None or 3 people because you don’t want to have too big of a group. Because a lot more work gets done when there’s less people.

08:48.73
tejones
You um, in in regards to that I mean I’ve seen some pictures there’ more than 2 or 3 people helping you. It looks like you’ve got a pretty decent group helping you. Is it easier with less people to um, maybe inspire more people to help.

09:04.91
Josh
Well you see the bigger the group the more it turns into a networking event a lot of socializing a lot of talking and that’s great. You know that’s another reason why I wanted to do this. I wanted to use this as a platform to get.

09:09.89
tejones
Right.

09:21.00
Josh
Local Conway businesses names out there I truly wanted to do that for them. But at the same time I’ve done a couple of these events where let’s say there was around None people there or something and they just turn into ah it turns more and into the networking. And um, as me just being a volunteer leader. It’s hard for me to jump in and say hey let’s get back to work. Everyone I can’t do that because it’s a volunteer group and I’m not going to I’m not going to make people think I’m I’ve got them together to just work.

09:46.51
tejones
Right? right.

09:56.84
Josh
So I got to let them network. I got to let them do what they want to do because that’s what they want to do so I’ve noticed that when I’ve done the events with like 3 to 5 people. They just tend to go much better. The networking aspect isn’t that important. Everyone’s a lot more just focused on the goal or the task at hand.

10:05.51
tejones
Got you.

10:15.45
Josh
And that’s why I’m really strong about the numbers here. The smaller the number the more likely you’re going to get what you wanted to get done.

10:21.60
tejones
You feel like you have a cap. It is a 5 the cap for you to know the number of people to help in the situation.

10:27.10
Josh
Ah, from my personal from what what I’ve from what I’ve seen 3 to None people tends to be best I did have a ah the best the most successful late cleanup I had was in 2021 and there was about Nine people there. But. We split up into a road crew and a lake crew so you had about None people on the lake 5 people on the road so they split into those smaller groups like I said. And yeah, that would be the None people. It was about the max.

10:47.00
tejones
Fright.

11:00.40
Josh
I would suggest I think had we all been together on the lake. It probably wouldn’t have went as well as it did. But since we divided up into None and five it. It went. It was incredible. The 2021 lake cleanup event was awesome because the Arkansas game and fish commission joined us and that was Matt Schrader um so ah thank you Matt Schrader for everything you’ve done for for my volunteer initiative and um also seal solar at seal solar is a ah local I would say Faulkner County area company that does solar panels and they.

11:34.83
tejones
And.

11:37.77
Josh
A whole crew of them came out there. Ah the um, the boss pulled up in a tesla. Yep, he pulled up and Tesla and gave us a big thumbs up and um I was really happy to have them on board because they feel.

11:42.66
tejones
Ah.

11:55.10
Josh
Also feel pretty strongly about the environmental and safety issues affecting not just Saltillo. But I I would say it’s affecting the whole world. I had a really good discussion with them about it and um I was really happy to have them in 2021. It was a fantastic late cleanup in 2021 and big thanks to Jason Young who I consider to be None of the organizing partners of this volunteer initiative. Ah Jason young is someone who helped me with the transportation which is critical when you’re doing I would say any type of late cleanup I mean ah, any type of cleanup. But especially for this lake cleanup because there was so much trash on Lake Conway that we had to have a very efficient means of transporting it all and by the way we did that in tandem with the Faulkner county wide cleanup. So we had a place to take it. That’s the other critical aspect.

12:39.95
tejones
Air.

12:50.23
tejones
Right.

12:50.29
Josh
You have to have a place to take all the all the trash when you pick it up so we always did that in in connection with the Faulkner County wide cleanup which is sponsored by the Faulkner county solid waste district I was also in ah, really close talks with judge Jim Baker about that Faulkner county wide cleanup. he he was he was very ah vocal and supportive of what we were doing for the fulner county wide cleanup. So I also couldn’t have organized this as well as it was without the support of Faulkner county solid waste district and especially judge Jim Baker

13:23.76
tejones
Now these late cleanups if you’t how many of you done so far 3

13:30.57
Josh
I’ve done 3 so I did the none one in 2020 which was um basically about ah about None people. Um it. It went really well, but it was ah kind of. For for me as the leader and organizer of the event I was really just kind of learning how to how to best do it all? So I um.

13:55.34
tejones
You have.

14:01.54
Josh
Felt like you know there was just just way too many things to improve on afterwards. So I wouldn’t say it was successful but I did get ah that one actually had more Saltillo community members there because in twenty I printed up a flier and I brought it all around the Salilo community. I didn’t go door to door but I drove around and if someone was outside I asked if I could share my flier with them and tell them about the late cleanup and I was able to reach out to a lot of people in Saltillo because of that and so that was my none um. Was my none step in the community engagement process. So I’ve always had community engagement in mind when I did this volunteer project and that’s how the community engagement process got going.

14:48.69
tejones
And you did 1 in 2021 and 2022

14:51.88
Josh
Yeah, so then in 2021 after doing it. The one time it was a lot easier for me to ah, get the get the word out there about the late cleanup and also about the Faulkner County wide cleanup which is held annually in October.

15:06.24
tejones
Um, can try.

15:08.55
Josh
It was a lot easier for me to get the message out there. So um, yeah I was able to reach out to more organizations. I talked to the ride in Conway. The Ride was extremely supportive of what I was doing and they wanted to participate in the late cleanup. But for. Just understandable reasons they weren’t able to make the time. Let’s just call it a scheduling conflict. But um, The Ride in Conway was very supportive and Eric hit the ride in Conway is an awesome dude and ah hope he doesn’t mind me calling him that but he’s a great person. Ah, Eric and Ryan Conway’s a great great guy and I have tried so hard to do as much as I can for the cycling community in Conway. Um I have talked to some people about getting some signs put up about. Cycling and Saltillo because there is a cycling group that comes through Saltillo they call it the eastern route. Um, but I have not been able to get any signs put up about it or anything yet. So let’s just say I’m hoping to work on that more in the future.

16:20.15
tejones
So you do these in October then in coordination with the countywide cleanup initiative.

16:27.43
Josh
That yeah, that’s and that’s yeah, that generally is between October eighth and october ten it just depends on when it falls. It’s always on a Friday and a Saturday so I can’t say it’s always from October eight to October ten but that’s generally when they try to do it. It’s during that time frame.

16:37.66
tejones
Object.

16:44.18
tejones
I Saw some of the pictures and you know yeah you had some people it looked like in kayaks to do the Lake cleanup and I suppose you have some people walking around the edge to do cleanup on the edge on the banks is that correct.

16:56.50
Josh
Yes, Ozark Mountain trading company and Conway has leased us kayaks for all 3 events so we have a ah ah strong collaboration with Ozark Mountain trading company. Um. Ah, Chase Chase at Ozark Mountain trading company conway told me um, we got into this business because we love to float rivers, tour lakes and fish. Um, our mission is to grow the paddle sports community and help educate floaters on appropriate water safety.

17:20.42
tejones
Right.

17:28.90
Josh
So me and chase at Ozark mountain trading company had always um, had had a lot in common about safety water safety and so um, that made it a lot easier for me to reach out to the Ozark mountain trading company and um, they um they leased us some kayaks. And um, we took real good care of him brought him back and we’ve been able to do that for the last three years

17:53.43
tejones
So I’m I’m assuming of course you’ll have another one this August and 2022

18:00.40
Josh
Not this year because um I haven’t been able to haven’t been able to find someone to help me with the transportation. It’s such an important part of it to where if I don’t have someone lined up by the summer, I can’t do it.

18:15.17
tejones
Got you.

18:17.37
Josh
So unfortunately I’m not going to build it this year for that reason because the problem I want to get out there to everyone who’s listening is that there’s just so much trash to pick up to where you got you got to haul it. The problem is that there’s just so much of it. Um. I wish there wasn’t very much to where I could just go pick it up on my own and take it. But that’s just not the case. There’s so much out there to pick up in regards to trash that I got to have a partner who’s going to be willing to transport it for me and I don’t have that this year so I can’t do it.

18:47.77
tejones
How are you? How is transportation taken care of? I mean if somebody with a certain size vehicle. How’s that working?

18:54.87
Josh
Yeah, it, you know it needs it it ah ideally needs to be someone who can haul a trailer. Um I mean it just depends on how much you want to pick up I mean we picked up like None bags in 2021 and we we threw them on the through them on the trailer. Um now. Ah, maybe. There was a misunderstanding earlier. We already did the late cleanup for this year we’re just we’re just not doing it in tandem with the Faulkner county wide cleanup because I couldn’t get someone to do the transportation in October but I was able to get ah my organizing partners.

19:16.80
tejones
Okay.

19:32.58
Josh
Jason young and Luke Kordsmeier to help me with the transportation in June and so we already did that in June yes.

19:39.56
tejones
Okay, so my next question was gonna mean certainly you’re not doing it in October this year because you’ve already done it. But let’s say somebody’s listening and they say me I really like to be a part of this project want to help with the cleanup or some other in some other capacity. You. How would they go about doing that? Do they get in touch with you? Do you have ideas about what people can do?

20:01.93
Josh
Yeah, um I always welcome people getting in touch with me. But as we as we um, all have busy lives that may not that may not be the um yeah I would say um, just. Get out there and organize one on your own because um, the smaller the better if if someone wants to link up with me. You know it. It may turn into a bigger group than than is necessary if someone was just to go organize one on their own. Um, it would probably be a much smaller group and I think more would get done. Um, you know you don’t have to do one in the Saltillo area you can choose your own Target Community you can choose a target community in Conway a target community in mayflower target community in Greenbrier, Mayflower or Vilonia. Um. It doesn’t have to be in Saltillo because the Faulkner County wide cleanup applies to all Fauntner County um so you could do one in Worcester. In fact, the people in Worcester, great ah, worster is a great example. Um, they are the whole. The whole area of Worcester is involved in the Faulkner ccunty wide cleanup. They have their own transportation for it. Um, their city hall coordinates with the Faulkner county waste district about it. So I would say reach out to Worcester. Um, because they’re very organized around the fner county wide cleanup I was very impressed with their work.

21:34.67
tejones
Let’s say that I am somebody and I do want to start my own and in an area that maybe isn’t being serviced. Do you have any advice for somebody who is like hey I want to do this in my area. What would you tell them? How would you tell them to get started?

21:45.47
Josh
Well I developed a strategy for this volunteer project. The strategy is called a tier strategy so that’s tier T stands for time I stands for Information E stands for effort R stands for resources now that may be a lot to think about. But um, these are very important steps so you got to set time aside in your personal life from work or study or whatever you’re doing you got to set time aside for it’s going to take ah to take time and then you now to get all the proper information so you got to know who who are the who are the community leaders. If Any are there any community leaders in my situation? There were no community leaders so it was a lot easier for me to just say okay I’m going to lead. I’m going to lead this all to a community. This is the kind of information you got to know and then effort is about um. It can be as simple as making phone calls. It can be as difficult as lining up someone to help you with transportation for transporting the trash and then the resources. That’s all about reaching out to organizations that want to collaborate and want to work on the project. In my case I was very successful because I was able to reach out to those mountain trading companies. I was able to work with the national weather service. Um, and the office of emergency Management Faulkner County Um I was able to get all the right resources. And that’s an important part of it because Volunteer volunteers Expect you to have resources they expect to have things.

23:23.38
tejones
Yeah, it’s ah very good advice on that and you know it’s it’s quite an undertaking to to take on the leadership of something like that. So certainly if somebody’s already doing it. It might be a little bit easier to join the efforts of something that is already being. Done and you’ve mentioned a few areas that already do a good job of that Worcester. Um, there may be some others I’m not sure. Are you aware of other places like Wooster to do a good job of cleaning up their area.

23:59.90
Josh
Not particularly, but that’s because I have not reached out to very many people outside of what I was doing in South Tolo I was so laser focused on the Saltillo community to where that was my whole mission was. Was to focus on there. So. That’s the only reason why I’m not I’m not real sure. Um, but I I know Worcester is very involved in it because they have all the information about the faultner County wide cleanup on their website. So that’s a good sign.

24:30.55
tejones
Catch it.

24:34.62
Josh
If someone’s putting all the information on their website. That’s ah, that’s a pretty good sign and to be honest with you when I was trying to look up more information about what people were doing for the Faulkner county wide cleanup Worcester was the only one of the only things I found about it even online. Um I mean of course other than what the Faulkner County saw waste district was putting out about it other than that. You know that’s the official information. But um, Worcester had information about it and I was impressed by that.

25:01.54
tejones
Yeah, well okay for me, you have really raised an awareness about Cleanup Efforts countywide that I didn’t know existed. So That’s very good. I’m actually going to look into that a little bit more and see how we can help publicize that a little bit Better. Um. Anything else you want us to know before we wrap this up.

25:22.15
Josh
Yeah, um I just couldn’t have done this without the support of the key organizations. The key organizations that helped me out through this for the Arkansas game and fish commission. The Arkansas game and fish foundation and the office of emergency management Faulkner County as well as the national weather service I also wanted to throw out there that we had a collaboration with CAPCA in Conway is a nonprofit that services. Um homelessness as well as low-income families CAPCA stands for. Community action program for central Arkansas I was able to collaborate with the food pantry coordinator Brady Thomas. Brady Thomas told me we’re always looking for volunteers in the community. Any donation goes a long way. We get some grant funding but the majority of the food pantry runs on donations and the reason why I wanted to get this out. This is because I believe that food security is a problem that everyone in Arkansas should be thinking about because it has been declared by official sources that. Um, Arkansas is the none most food insecure state in the entire United States of America and it was exacerbated by covid nineteen and um I I was able to collaborate with Brady Thomas at capka.

26:41.78
tejones
Yeah, yeah.

26:50.52
Josh
For every bag of trash. We picked up at our late cleanup this year we donated a food item so we picked up 10 bags of lake trash and we donated a food item for each one so we were able to get 10 food items.

27:03.82
tejones
Nice.

27:08.37
Josh
To the Capers food pantry based on how many bags of Trash. We picked up and I just want to get that out there to everyone who’s listening because um, it’s a great way to collaborate with other organizations and to get other organizations involved. Which is a critical part of successfully leading and organizing a volunteer project. Yes.

27:30.50
tejones
Community engagement is very good. I do appreciate your time Josh and letting us know more about your initiative but not only that inspiring us to consider ways that we can be a part of food. So insecurity. As well as cleaning up our own communities. Thanks for coming on the ship.

27:49.22
Josh
Yes, happy to do it. Oh yeah, thank you for having me Mr Todd Jones

27:57.33
tejones
Bet you bet. Thank you.

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