Friday, December 17, 2010

Cash Awards Available for Sustainable School Projects

By Alissa Ferrell, School Award Coordinator, Waste 2 Resources Program

It’s time for public and private school around the state to apply for the 2011 Terry Husseman Sustainable School Awards!

Garfield Middle School (Whitman County) students used their award to monitor the Palouse River, using scientific techniques to measure the health of the ecosystem. Gatewood Elementary (King County) diverted more than 20,000 pounds of compostable waste and significantly increased recycling rates since receiving their award. And Neah Bay Elementary (Clallam County) students reduced plastic bag use by using their award to purchase reusable shopping bags adorned with the school mascot for students and staff.

The awards promote sustainability and reward school efforts to reduce waste and increase environmental curricula. Ecology gives awards to schools for implementing activities such as recycling, environmentally preferable purchasing, organic gardening, composting, resource conservation, and more. All K-12 schools in Washington are eligible to apply.

Awards are presented in three categories:

  • Seed Awards fund start-up costs for programs promoting waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability both within the school and in the community.

  • Sustainable School Awards recognize ongoing efforts to maintain and expand programs that focus on waste reduction, recycling, and sustainability.

  • Creative Environmental Curriculum Awards recognize original curricula that introduce students, teachers, staff, and administrators to the concepts of waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and sustainability. Ecology supports curricula that inspire a sense of environmental stewardship in the students.

Applications are due at the Department of Ecology, 300 Desmond Drive SE, Lacey, WA 98503 no later than 5:00 pm on Feb. 28, 2011.

We expect to distribute close to $30,000 for the 2011 award cycle. Awards range from $100-$5,000. Award recipients are recognized at a ceremony on the Capitol Campus in May. Learn more about the program or get application materials.

Here’s what some of our recent award winners have done:

Creston School, Lincoln County — 2010 Seed Award $3,150

“The year (2010) has been very productive already with regards to recycling at Creston School. First, we purchased a metal storage building to organize and protect our collected materials. Next, the shop class built a recycle pick-up bin with wheels so the Creston Environmental Sustainability Program (CRESP) crew can efficiently collect materials weekly. The class also has constructed a large bin to house cardboard until we take it to the recycle company. Our lunchroom milk distributor has donated the use of 25 bins to assist the classrooms in sorting white paper to assist the CRESP crew.

We have established a shared relationship with the local recycling company to lower the number of trips into Spokane to deliver materials. This will save us 50% of the number of trips which amounts to 150 miles round trip times 20 trips, or 3,000 miles per year. It also provides the local recycler with materials they can accumulate and sell to recycle brokers. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

"We will begin accepting recycle materials from the community of Creston on December 1, 2010 which will increase the volume of collected materials significantly. We are, however, up to the challenge. Overall, the year has picked up where we left off last June and the level of excitement is growing." — Earl Hill

Creston students receive their award from Ecology Director, Ted Sturdevant, at the ceremony on May 21, 2010.

Garfield Middle School, Whitman County — 2010 Environmental Curriculum Award $750

Garfield Middle School received an award for their water quality and ecosystem-based curriculum. Students monitor the Palouse River utilizing various scientific techniques and parameters that measure the health of the ecosystem including flora and fauna. Seventh and eighth grade students gain hands-on experience in data collection, observations, and analyses. This program creates student awareness of the importance of maintaining a healthy environment and communicating concerns with appropriate organizations.

“The project, which started several years ago, is an ongoing project testing the quality of water, as well as flow rate of the Palouse River. They gather information 4-5 times a year, and then the students compare the results of each test from year to year.” — Phil Weagraff

Eighth Grade students from Garfield-Palouse Middle School refine their skills at testing the water quality of the Palouse River in Elberton, WA.

Gatewood Elementary, King County — 2010 Sustainable School Award $500

Gatewood began diverting cafeteria wastes for composting and recycling in 2007 and since then has diverted over 20,000 pounds of compostable waste and significantly increased recycling rates. In addition, Gatewood is working on other programs related to environmentally friendly procurement, including less toxic cleaning products, less toxic white board markers, and hopes to begin procuring recycled content paper.

“With an additional 60 students over last years' headcount, Gatewood has had to ramp up a bit on our compost and recycling sorting in the cafeteria. We are using three to four bio-based composting bags of food waste each day (as compared to two to three last year)” We have been able to purchase more bags with award funds.

In the area of environmentally preferable purchasing, we purchased non-toxic, refillable white board markers for a few classrooms as a pilot program. Students use these during individual slate work, often with 24 students simultaneously, and it has dramatically reduced the odor in the classroom. “The new markers are fabulous in that they have almost no odor, and if they do dry out, we simply refill them. Several other teachers would like to get these markers for their classrooms as well.” — Michelle Gaither

Cape Horn-Skye Elementary, Clark County — 2009 Seed Award $1,302

This award allowed students to purchase a composter bin, educational materials, and supplies. They partnered with knowledgeable representatives from Clark County Solid Waste and the Master Gardener programs for educational assistance.

“In the fall, students and teachers collected leaves from our campus and students also brought leaves from home. We put them in plastic bags to use later in the winter/spring when brown matter is scarce. Fourth and fifth grade teachers and students are the leaders in our school for the composting project. Each day, they collect apple cores, lettuce, etc. from K-5 classes and students take turns putting food scraps and leaves into the composter.” — Mary Lou Woody

Students learn about composting from the county’s organics specialist, Gregg Hayward.

Fifth Graders placing leaves into their compost bin.

Gregg explains how the compost bin works.

Neah Bay Elementary, Clallam County — 2009 Seed Award $1,200

Students reduced plastic bag use by purchasing reusable shopping bags adorned with the school mascot for student and staff use. The school also collaborated with the Makah Environmental Division and Port Angeles Public Works to give each classroom a presentation on Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling in early December. Helen Freilich from Port Angeles Public Works emphasized the importance of reducing the amount of waste that students produce. She encouraged students to reuse and recycle products where possible. At the end of the presentation, Mrs. Murner, Neah Bay Elementary Principal, presented the students with the reusable bags with their Thunderbird mascot.

“…[S]tudents and staff will be using these bags at the local grocery store, ‘Washburn’s,’ instead of plastic bags. This will be one way that Neah Bay Elementary students will begin their journey to reduce, reuse and recycle.” — Alice Murner

Neah Bay Elementary students posing with their reusable bags.

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