Volunteer Story: Arkansas Canoe Club

Four people paddle a floating dumpster down a river.
Four Arkansas Canoe Club volunteers paddle a dumpster after retrieving it from the bottom of the Buffalo River.

C. Chadbourn

The Arkansas Canoe Club (ACC) was the 2019 National Park Service Regions 3, 4 and 5 (Midwest) Hartzog Volunteer Group of the Year. The award recognizes the group's dedication in cleaning up Buffalo National River. The George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service recognize the exemplary contributions of volunteers across the National Park System.

Cowper Chadbourn and the ACC have gone above and beyond the average river cleanup. They've committed to removing the biggest, bulkiest, and most challenging debris from waterways across Arkansas. This requires a technically-driven mind, a devotion to stewardship, and a whole lot of tenacity and time.

In 2019, the ACC removed more than 15,000 pounds of debris, including 400 tires, from the Buffalo River. Drawing from its members' specialized know-how and phenomenal leadership, ACC creates innovative tools like floating cranes and pulley systems to extract difficult debris from difficult places. ACC member Chris Elkins even designed a smartphone app that paddlers can use to log photos and GPS waypoints of debris so that ACC volunteers can efficiently find and retrieve it later.

Learn more about volunteering for the National Park Service.

Buffalo National River

Last updated: April 7, 2021