Caving to your kids’ desperate pleas for a pet typically means signing yourself up for over a decade of responsibility. Promises of “I’ll walk him and feed him every day” often fall to the wayside when the initial thrill wears off, but most kids aren’t like Cash Daniels. Cash didn’t dream of adopting a pet, but instead, he dreamed of adopting a section of the Tennessee River – and once his dream became a reality, Cash’s sense of responsibility went into overdrive.
Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful, a nonprofit organization created an Adopt a River Mile Program to encourage locals to get involved. The program invites community members to adopt sections of the Tennessee River, and in doing so, they take on the responsibility of keeping their section clean.
At just 9 years old, Cash Daniels proudly adopted his own mile of the Tennessee River. The prior year, Cash helped with other river clean-ups before deciding to dive head-first into his own conservation efforts.
“I learned that rivers are the leading cause of pollution in our oceans, and that made me want to do river cleanups. I wanted to do what I could to stop it,” Cash said in an interview. “Cleaning is fun and hard. There’s a lot that goes into the cleanups. I know that the work is hard, but I am helping wildlife, and that’s what matters to me.”
Now 11 years old, Cash has only gotten more serious about his conservation efforts. He’s removed thousands of pounds of trash from the Tennessee River, and installed receptacles to deter people from leaving behind their fishing line. Cash’s incredible efforts haven’t gone unnoticed – the Tennessee Wildlife Federation named the ambitious pre-teen their Youth Conservationist of the Year three times (so far).