More than an hour before the crowds of visitors arrive at the Dallas Zoo, there's a team of conservationists working beneath the walkways to focus on the waterways.
"Half the state gets their water from the Trinity River," said Ben Jones with the Dallas Zoo, which is why the feeder creeks and streams are clean.
For the second year, 18-year-old Keriyanna Fultz is helping Groundwork Dallas as part of its Green Team Conservation Corps.
"So we're out cleaning Cedar Creek and we're picking up little pieces of trash like plastics and glass and things like that," Keriyanna said.
It's all in an effort to pick up her personal flavor of a good find. "This is gold right here!" Keriyanna said while digging into the water with a metal track picker.
She proudly showed all of the things she'd collected from Cedar Creek. "Plastic bags and things... a ladle... I picked up all this in about a minute, so imagine how much more and how much smaller pieces are in there," Keriyanna said while holding several pieces of broken tile and glass.
"It's really great to get to see her passion growing for being out in nature and having an impact on the environment," Megan Davis with Groundwork Dallas said.
"Like every time I see somebody throw something on the ground I go pick it up because I know that's going to end up in some storm drain somewhere, it's going to end up going into a river," Keriyanna said.
Keriyanna is passionate about protecting nature because it helped ground her through unimaginable challenges.
"I started this Green Team when I was in a homeless shelter," Keriyanna said. "And so it was a really tough time for me and I really didn't want to go on."
She said she struggled with clinical anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide.
"Like I thank God for not letting me go through with it, cause like if I had did it, who knows how that would have affected the other people in my life," Keriyanna said.
She said she felt herself changing for the better when she came outside to give back.
"It made me think like, 'wow, you know, there's a lot more out here. There's a lot more things in life than just what I'm going through.' So let me stop worrying about the little things and, you know, focus on the bigger picture," Keriyanna said.
Keriyanna recently graduated from LG Pinkston High School with honors and has scholarships for college.
"It's like, when I look back, I can't believe where I am now because I honestly didn't think I'd make it this far," Keriyanna said.
And it all started with her wanting to give back by taking care of nature, and in return, she, too, started to heal.
Keriyanna's efforts with Groundwork Dallas, earned her a camping trip to the Grand Canyon. She also credits basketball coach Nancy Saddler at LG Pinkston High School for helping her through the hardest time in her young life. Keriyanna said Saddler just happened to be standing at the front of the school the day Keriyanna went to drop out. She said Saddler took her to the principal's office where they convinced her she had what it takes to succeed.