By Heather Sawaski
RHINELANDER (WAOW) -- Brothers Luke and Kyle Lenard spend a summer afternoon in July with some friends cleaning up Rhinelander's Lake Hanson.
Growing up on the water, the teens say they got tired of swimming with trash.
"We see a lot of garbage in the lakes and its disgusting seeing it all," said Kyle.
So they decided to take matters into their own hands. In 2007, the boys started Project C.O.O.L, or Clean Our Oneida Lakes.
"We saw a lot of garbage in the local lakes and thought it was wrong and since everyone cleans up roads, we thought this was unique," Luke said. "So we cleaned up some lakes and its just expanded since then."
What once was an effort of just 2, has grown into a school-wide project. Over the past 4 summers, 30 of the Lenard's classmates dove in head first to help remove more than 4,000 pounds of garbage from 12 Oneida County lakes and shorelines.
"It increases the beauty of the lake without all this garbage," Luke said. "So it increases tourism in the Northwoods. But it's also good for the environment where there's not going to be a can that some animal accidentally steps on or does something bad with."
Luke and Kyle give presentations to different schools and organizations about their community service.
"I thought it was a remarkable idea for my sons at that age to think of something so environmentally important," said the boy's father Chris Lenard.
The boys plan to continue the clean ups until they head off to college in the coming years. They say their hope is that younger people will get involved and keep C.O.O.L afloat until all 1129 lakes in Oneida County get some much needed TLC.
Congratulations to Luke and Kyle. They and all our winners will be eligible to move on to the national competition.
Newsline 9 Jefferson Awards are presented by Marshfield Clinic.