A Busy Year for Spencer-Van Etten Middle School’s Greenhouse Program

By Brenda J. Anderson, Spencer-Van Etten Middle School

The 7th and 8th grade students in my Greenhouse Program (GHP) at Spencer-Van Etten (S-VE) Middle School in Spencer, NY, plan big .  The students in this hands-on integrated elective continued their work from previous years of promoting Green Education in their building, district and community in a variety of exciting ways. 

Much of their planning and work focused on promoting the 2nd Annual Green Week, March 14th -18th, 2011 in both the elementary and middle school buildings.  Students in all grades PreK-8 participated in trivia contests, lessons, recycling initiatives with www.terracycle.net and a recycling audit.  Eighth grade math students used data from previous waste audits to calculate the amount of waste that S-VE school district diverts from the landfill each year by composting and recycling (102,000 pounds annually!) while eighth grade science students studied the ecology of the compost pile, grew fresh mushrooms and prepared a class luncheon fit for a king.  The week culminated in a spectacular presentation about environmental issues by presenter Glenn Colton at both the elementary and middle levels.

In April, the Board of Education (BOE) and community members were given an opportunity to look into the endeavors of the GHP during a community expo prior to a BOE meeting.  Students shared initiatives in composting, recycling, reductions in plastic bag usage and raising money for their program through “upcycling” with Terracycle.  Students shared a composting DVD and spoke to members of the media about their successes.

In May, the 8th grade class and some 7th graders in the GHP took a trip to Cornell University for a series of workshops on water and soil quality, recycling and hydrofracking.  Students had opportunities to speak with community leaders in their fields and learn about related jobs.  The field trip ended at Aman Farm in Candor where S-VE sends all of its compostable waste.  Students learned about the farm firsthand, including how their lunch room waste is turned into usable compost and methane gas for electricity production.  Following the field trip, students in the GHP began editing video footage taken during the trip.  Their video, while still in production, intends to educate the larger community about the composting process from lunch pail waste to completed compost. 

Our final community educational endeavor, Party at the Pond, took place on June 4th, 2011.  Students from Green Teams in both the elementary and middle buildings spent the day teaching community members about the dangers of plastic bags with an educational flyer and DVD.  Participants that visited the booth were able to create canvas grocery shopping bags to take home and use on their next visit to the store.  Students also helped booth visitors plant seeds using the compost collected from our own cafeteria waste and recycled yogurt cups. 

While GHP students are wrapping up the year, they are also busy planning events for the 2011-12 season.  Plans are underway for a trip to a local recycling center and to Ithaca College to see green buildings and college campuses in action.  Students who attend will be turn-key trainers for other students when they return from their buildings.  Several community workshops are also in the planning stages, including one to teach community members how to compost with worms.  Students also wish to create an environmental calendar for community distribution.

A heart-felt thank you goes out to the Community Catalyst Fund from the students and community of Spencer-Van Etten.  Your generous monetary contributions are helping to make all of our Green Dreams come true!

Explore posts in the same categories: Carbon Management, Climate, climate change, climate education, Community Action, composting, Energy Efficiency, environment, Food, fossil fuels, gardening, Global Warming, Green House Gas Emissions, green jobs, local energy, New Generation, organic, organic food, Recycling, Renewable energy, Solutions, student climate action, Uncategorized

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