The Green Schools Quest is an annual program of the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter that challenges schools within the Chapter’s territory (Missouri and Southern Illinois) to devise and implement, with the help of Green Mentors, the most creative, effective and no or low cost sustainable practices for their schools. Now in its fifth year, the Green Schools Quest program has grown to having over 50 schools participate in the annual challenge, and with each year EarthWays Center staff continues to serve as mentors for schools participating in the Quest and commits to help them succeed in implementing their sustainable vision.
This year, four EarthWays team members served as mentors for schools including: Christ Community Lutheran School, Rogers Middle School, Parkway Central, and Hazelwood West. These schools and all other participants of the Quest were honored at the annual USGBC Green Schools Event held on Wednesday, April 11 at St. Louis University High School where this year’s winners were also announced.
Kat Golden, Christ Community Lutheran School
Having won second place last year, the Christ Community Lutheran School Green Team was anxious to kick-off a new school year with even more growth and impact for the whole school. The Green Team parents met early to discuss ways to bring their projects and ideas to the whole school. In October, the entire 4th grade class took a field trip to a local landfill and presented to the rest of the school. The administration, staff, and faculty are now seeing this effort as part of the fabric of the school community and, it’s becoming more obvious that this is just the start to something that will run even deeper as the years go by and the students advance in grade level. The Green Team looks on as many 4th grade Green Teamers will be moving to the middle school campus in the fall and they are all inquiring, “will there be a Green Team at the Middle School campus?” With their enthusiasm and passion for the environment, we think the answer is clear!!!!
Simon Warren, Hazelwood West
Hazelwood West High School’s Green Schools project began with an idea from the Botany and Ecological Engineering club, to provide compost to fertilize the school’s gardens. Driven by the initiative of the clubs members, and with guidance from biology teacher Erin Sind and EarthWays mentor Simon Warren, the project grew into a waste-reduction initiative at the school, which made a significant first step into achieving behavioral changes on campus. Students first conducted a waste audit in order to discover how many pounds of wet waste (primarily food-covered packaging) was making its way into the waste stream, and ultimately to the landfill every day. With a student body of over 3,000 students, the team realized that any change would have to be very specific, and done very well. As a result, the club acquired retired yellow garbage totes from Total Organics, prepared an informational pitch to be shared with classmates during homerooms, and began holding “Waste-Free Wednesdays” starting in February, where they collected cafeteria food waste in the totes. At the end of the day, they rolled the waste out themselves to start a windrow composting operation on-campus, making a trial case for large-scale onsite composting at school. By March, they had saved over 180 pounds of waste, and had made the case for implementing composting at lunch. To perpetuate this project, they’ll begin working with students at nearby Armstrong Elementary to help the next generation connect their understanding of gardening with their own garbage and composting habits.
Rob Kennedy, Parkway Central
Rob Kennedy, Sustainability Programs Coordinator, worked with students in the Parkway Spark! program in an effort to redesign an underutilized outdoor classroom area in the Parkway Central Science Department. Students learned information about native plants and their many benefits, while working to engage teachers, students, maintenance staff and other stakeholders to research what had been planted in the outdoor classroom, why it did not thrive, why the classroom goes underutilized and what types of species, design and benefits would make the space more sustainable, more easy to care for and more widely utilized by students and staff.
Joyce Gorrell, Rogers Middle School
Students in Krista Bernreuter’s 7th grade science enrichment class participated in the 2018 Green Schools Quest along with the help of their EarthWays mentor Joyce Gorrell. This is Roger’s third year participating in the Green Schools Quest after coming in 1st place for the 2016-17 school year in the Middle School Category for their pollinator awareness project. This is their first year focusing on waste reduction and raising awareness with the school and community about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling. Rogers has established single stream recycling in classrooms, but not the cafeteria. Students wanted to focus on adding recycling in the cafeteria and making the existing recycling program more successful. As a class they decided their goals were to reduce the amount of waste in the cafeteria ending up in a landfill, increase the amount of items going to the recycling center, and to educate their school community on how to create healthy habits for a healthy environment where they live, learn and play.
For more information about the Green Schools Quest, to view a list of winning schools, and to sign up as a participating school or mentor for the upcoming school year click here. The 2018-19 Focus of the Year is Energy!