One First-Grader’s Mission to Clean Our Streets, He’s Been at it For Years


One pint-sized North Dakotan has made it his mission to keep our state green and clean.

We’ll introduce you to a first grader who spends his free-time picking up after others.

7-year-old Levi Johnke puts on gloves, grabs his trash gathering tongs, and heads out the door.

He shares, “‘Cause saving the earth is fun.”

And according to this young garbage collector, he’s been cleaning the streets of Bismarck since he was five.

A couple of days a week you can find him scoping the sidewalks with his mom.

Levi’s mom, Katie Johnke says, “We eat and then he grabs the items that he needs, and then we go for probably a 15- or 20-minute walk around the neighborhood. Or if we need to maybe ride bikes to a further location, and then pick up trash from there.”

The garbage walks were all Levi’s idea.

Katie Johnke adds, “I think it comes back to the garbage truck and the recycling truck, and all that construction equipment growing up, reading about it in books.”

We asked Levi, “How does it make you feel when you see trash on the ground?”

The first-grader responded, “Mad, because people keep doing it.”

Levi’s mom, Katie says they see the most trash around this time of year, right after the snow melts.

She adds, “We can do more, just as a community to keep our neighborhoods cleaner. And if we all kind of took ownership of our own little neighborhood, and it really doesn’t take that much time to go around and pick up. I think Bismarck could be a cleaner city, and North Dakota could be a cleaner state, and so on and so forth.”

Keeping the ground clear of clutter is a mindset for Levi, and it doesn’t require scheduled walks.

He explains, “Like this morning, once I found a coffee cup in the middle of the road. I picked it up when we were walking home.”

Levi says thanks to his mom, he knows how important it is for everyone to pick up after themselves.

They usually fill an entire trash bag every time they go out. His mom guesses they’ve filled more than 40 since they started.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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