Educating for a greener world

Written by Donna Stuckert. Posted in Featured

Published on January 24, 2012 with No Comments

You may know solid waste districts across Indiana provide waste reduction services and events, like drop-off recycling sites and household hazardous waste collections. But solid waste districts also provide education to residents on waste reduction, recycling, and the environment. The education part of their mission is crucial in achieving the state’s waste reduction goals. Districts provide this education in a number of ways, including providing outreach programs to students in classrooms, hosting camps for kids, offering adult workshops, participating as exhibitors at shows, supplying speakers for meetings, and holding special events.

At the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, one educator visits school classrooms around the county, providing an array of interesting, hands-on programs to introduce students to the environment.  Teachers have a number of programs to choose from, such as “Wonderful Worms,” which introduces students to vermicomposting using live worms, magnifiers and microscopes to get children excited about composting; and “Edible Landfill” which teaches students about the design and materials used in modern landfill construction using some of their favorite foods, like cereal and pudding.

Other school programs include “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink,”  “Water Watchers,” “Lovely Ladybugs,” “Dunes in My Backyard,” “Lesson of the Lorax,” and many more. For this educator, the summer months don’t mean vacation; instead, he works with park districts to create summer camps that educate children about the environment. He also provides programming for children’s clubs, such as the Girls’ and Boys’ Clubs, as requested.

Last year, the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County School Educator provided programming for more than 6,500 children.  Introducing children to aspects of the environment while they are young helps them create a good foundation of knowledge they can use to build upon for the rest of their lives. 

The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County also provides education for adults using speakers and workshops. Rain barrel and compost workshops are already scheduled for 2012. Online registration for March rain barrel workshops will begin Wednesday, Feb. 1, and registration starts Sunday, April 1, for May compost classes. Visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org to register.

Speakers are always available from the District for clubs and organizations with members interested in learning more about waste reduction and the services the District provides. Anyone in Porter County interested scheduling a District speaker for a group or organization can call 219-465-3694. The District also participates as an exhibitor in shows, such as the Master Gardeners Gardening Show, to meet with attendees and educate them on services and ways to become greener in their everyday lives. 

Residents in Lake and LaPorteCounties can use this information to learn more about their district’s educational resources:

Lake County: 219-769-3820, www.lcswmd.com, lcswmd@lcswmd.com

LaPorte County: 219-326-5310, www.solidwastedistrict.com, aebaugh@solidwastedistrict.com

Even the annual Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration that occurs in April is much more than just fun; it is a perfect example of promoting environmental stewardship among individuals and businesses. The Celebration, a free one-day, educational event, has become an annual tradition of inspiring residents to become more environmentally-conscious by connecting attendees with environmental organizations, exhibitors, businesses and vendors that engage them in fun and entertaining ways to learn about living greener.

The staff of the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County has begun planning for the 2012 Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration. This seventh annual event will take place indoors for the very first time, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the Porter County Expo Center, Valparaiso. 

The new venue will provide more space for exhibitors and programs, as well as shelter from the elements. The District is searching for exhibitors for the event. To register as an exhibitor, visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org.

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About Donna Stuckert

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Donna Stuckert is the Community Education Coordinator for the Recycling & Waste Reduction District of Porter County. She is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience who enjoys working for the greater good and inspiring others on making a difference. For more information or to reach Stuckert, e-mail DStuckert@ItMeansTheWorld.org.

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