Louisiana Teen Keeps Her Community Clean, Green and Litter Free

Daily Point of Light # 7806 May 7, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Yuri Cobb. Read her story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

When Yuri Cobb was only 10 years old, she started volunteering with  Ouachita Green in West Monroe, Louisiana, with her father. Six years later, Cobb realized what a true passion serving her community had become. From beautification projects, litter abatement, recycling efforts and educational sessions for young elementary and middle school students, she’s become a true inspiration to the residents of Ouachita Parish.

Through her work and internship with Ouachita Green, Cobb was also recognized in Keep Louisiana Beautiful’s Everyday Hero Awards as the recipient of the Rocksey’s Young Leadership Award, which recognizes those that go the extra mile to keep their communities litter-free and beautiful.

What inspires you to volunteer?

It started around when I was in seventh grade. One afternoon my dad told me that I should start getting involved in our community, and then my volunteerism just took off from there. It was my dad who got me started with Ouachita Green; he really inspired me to start getting involved and we bonded together while volunteering.

Sixteen-year-old Yuri Cobb leads beautification projects, litter abatement, recycling efforts and educational sessions for young elementary and middle school students with Ouachita Green.

Tell us about your volunteer role with Ouachita Green?

At Ouachita Green I really just try to keep West Monroe beautiful by making it cleaner and greener. Every weekend, or bi-weekly, we have a cleanup where we’ll go to a certain area of the community and we’ll just start picking up the trash. Last June, we got a new director and she’s really big on education. Recently we’ve been going around to local schools and we help educate students on different topics, like what recycling is, how recycling helps the environment and more. I did one about a month ago and I got to talk about the effects of litter on wildlife and what happens when birds get trapped in little coke plastic rings. It’s a cool hands-on activity. There are different education locations every week around our county.

I also interned with Ouachita Green, and participated in major events like our Household Hazardous Waste Collection event. We collect hazardous waste like batteries, bulbs, old furniture, clothing and recyclables. We have one in the spring and one in the fall. People get to drive through and drop off their items so harmful things don’t go back into the environment.

I also was one of the artists involved in the Ouachita Green Keep West Monroe Beautiful “Frame the Drain Project,” and painted a storm drain to remind passing traffic and pedestrians that “A clean Louisiana starts with us!”

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part is being able to drive around the community and know that I had an impact in keeping it beautiful. Trash gets caught up pretty quickly, but there’s always a difference you can see. I’ve developed this passion for helping my community and I just feel so fulfilled. I hope I can inspire other people to have this passion that I have because I don’t want others to miss out on this.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

I’ve learned about the true meaning of being a citizen in a community and what it means to demonstrate service showmanship. It might sound corny, but I am who I am because of my community service and the impact that it’s had on my life. I can’t wait to see where this will take me in life.

Do you have any advice for people who want to start volunteering?

I’d like to say just don’t be afraid, and that people that you work with are always working for the same overall mission. It’s inspiring to see what the difference is that you can make in your community.

Do you have a favorite memory from volunteering with Ouachita Green?

One of my favorite memories is just getting up and being able to spend time with my father. I feel like we bonded once we started getting up early and doing things for the community while spending one-on-one time with each other.

Tell us about future partnerships, programs or events that you are excited about.

I’m really excited to do more educational presentations for the younger children at schools because it really is my passion to impact other people, and these education sessions also help me with my elementary education degree plan. Those kids are usually ages five to ten.

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Yuri? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Madi Donham