Keeping nature in its natural state is best for us, and more importantly, it benefits the wildlife and vegetation that surrounds our beautiful waterfalls.

Litter is very harmful to wildlife for many reasons. Animals do not know that if they eat that tasty snack and its wrapper, it could poison them or cause them to choke and die.

Litter can also contain harmful chemicals that could kill the plants, and it causes water pollution, which will affect the community at large and the creek critters that depend on clean water for their habitat. It is up to YOU to make good choices that will help our environment.


Tom’s Creek Falls in Marion is a very popular destination. It is a lovely waterfall with a nice little pool for kids to wade in. There are even a few camp spots by the creek along the trail to the waterfall. The downside is there is a LOT of trash, starting in the parking lot and continuing all along the trail. We found boxes, cans, and other trash along the trail. Do your part and make sure you don’t litter. If you plan to visit, bring a trash bag and gloves because there is sure to be some trash for you to pick up. 

Junior Scientist: When scientists check the water quality of streams, they use chemistry to test for different indicators of pollution. However, they also make visual observations. The litter you find at a waterfall can be an important clue as to why the water is not as healthy as it should be. By sending us your observations, we can better understand why certain areas may be less healthy, and therefore we can focus our efforts to improve them!


Pick up all the trash on a trail to your chosen waterfall. Submit a picture of you with the bucket or bag ag of trash or just the bucket or bag of trash at the waterfall. 

Click here to open the Conservationist Coloring sheet and then print it.

* Draw trash on the blank side of the coloring sheet that could be found at a waterfall.

* Color the Conservationist coloring sheet according to what impact the trash could have on the waterfall and creek. Maybe the trashy water is more brown, or the vegetation isn’t as green, etc. 

* Write a statement about why litter is bad for the environment.

* Write about what could be improved on the trail based on your observations. Some things you could write about are what to do if the trail was dangerous, if there were any fallen trees on the trail, or if the steps or boardwalk needs to be improved.

Create an account with ecoEXPLORE.

* Click here to open the ecoEXPLORE website and create an account if you don’t already have one. 

* Submit your favorite photos of the creek or waterfall you visited.

ecoEXPLORE is a program designed by The North Carolina Arboretum. While you are exploring waterfalls, you can snap photos of plants and animals. Upload your photos to the ecoEXPLORE website and earn badges and prizes! 


Before you request your badge, make sure you signed up to be a Junior Keeper by clicking the registration form on the Junior Waterfall Keepers page. Once you’re registered, submit the form on the right. Make sure you upload all the photos you took for the challenge. For the coloring sheet and written statements, you can scan them or take a picture of them and upload them with the other photos. This form is ONLY for the Junior Conservationist Badge. For the Creek Critters Badge, you need to use the form on the Creek Critters page.