12-year-old from Carlos cleans up over 50 cans and bottles from Long Prairie River

Like his name would suggest, Kade Nobles is a noble young man. On June 18, Noble collected over 50 cans and bottles from the bottom of the Long Prairie River in Carlos State park with the help of his floating tube and trusty goggles.

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Kade Nobles sits next to the Long Prairie River in Lake Carlos State Park. Nobles collected over 50 cans and bottles from the rover on June 18. (Thalen Zimmerman / Echo Press)

What started as a relaxing day of floating down the river with his parents, quickly turned into an exhausting mission for Kade Nobles, a 12-year-old from Carlos.

He picked up as much trash as possible from the Long Prairie River in Lake Carlos State Park on Friday, June 18. Kade collected over 50 plus cans and bottles that littered the river's bottom and banks.

"Every time we go down the river, I just think how sad it is to see all the bottles and cans that just get thrown in," said Kade when recollecting the day's events. "I get really disappointed in people when I see all the litter."

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Kade Nobles poses next to his collection of trash picked up from the bottom of the Long Prairie River in Lake Carlos State Park. (contributed photo)


With the help of his trusty goggles, Kade laid on his tube, head face down in the water, and he was able to spot dozens of cans and bottles at the bottom of the river. Within just minutes, Nobles said there were already 10 or more cans in his sight. Using his parents' floating cooler, he was able to keep all the trash he collected out of the water.

"I was tired and breathing heavy from holding my breath a lot and diving into the water, but I was determined," said Kade.

Kade was originally inspired to do his part to clean up the environment after seeing commercials of people cleaning up the oceans. However, the last straw was when Kade personally witnessed someone throwing an empty bottle into the river.

So far, Kade has filled three large commercial garbage bags with trash he has collected from lakes, rivers and even ditches in the area after volunteering his time with New Life Church. Nobles is planning to bring those bags in to get money and donate it to a charity of his choosing.

"I am very proud of him." said Amber Wagner, Kade's mother. "We need to preserve the river if we want to continue to float. I have been coming here since I was a kid and would like to see other generations enjoy the river as well."

Kade said the experience made him feel good to help out the local environment, although he feels he could have picked up more that day. Sooner or later, he plans to be part of the Adopt a Highway program to continue his mission to protect the environment and he hopes to round up people in the community to assist in picking up the trash.

"We are the second in the world for pollution. If everyone just did their part to help pick up, we could change that." said Kade. "It ain't going to be easy, but people need to stop polluting. Leave it better than you found it."

Kade would like to become a DNR officer or game warden to continue to do what he can to help the environment, inspire others and educate people on the harmful effects of pollution.


Kade and Wagner would like to thank Kelsi Timm and Nattiel Dammer, admins, for the Helping Hands of Alexandria Facebook page. Wagner shared a snapshot of her son's adventure, and the post went viral with over a thousand "likes" and 200-plus comments.

In addition, the post got a bunch of positive feedback, which eventually led to words of encouragement from people, including Amanda Kramer, a local resident who works with non-profits, and Bud and Nancy Anderson, a Carlos couple who call the river their home, who personally sent Nobles a thank you card.

"I would like to go and meet them personally and say thank you," said Kade.

Wagner said the reaction was unexpected, "I just wanted to share Kade's hard work and selflessness, then at work my phone just started going off with notifications, one after the other. I was shocked."

Kade's last bit of advice for anyone who wishes to float the river is to show it love. "Come to the river and have fun, but do your part and pick up what you can. Cherish the river like a baby."

His plans for the summer include baseball and more environmental pick-ups.

Thalen Zimmerman of Alexandria joined the Echo Press team as a full-time reporter in Aug. 2021, after graduating from Bemidji State University with a bachelor of science degree in mass communication in May of 2021.
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