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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Polaris High School, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

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Polaris High School, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
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Registered: December 2011
City/Town/Province: Fort Collins
Posts: 1
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My name is Madeleine Effner. I am the President of the Polaris “Trash Talkers” which is a program dedicated to the diversion of compostable and recyclable material away from the Larimer County solid waste stream. I have taken on the role of President for the 2011-2012 school year at a time when the program is, for the first time in its history, fully student-led.
The History of the Polaris “Trash Talkers”
The Polaris trash Talkers team was originally formed by the School’s Art teacher, Ryan Grindel, when I was in 9th grade (2008-2009). I attended the first meeting and worked to help develop the program from the start. At first, we were a large group with many different ideas – we all wanted to help improve our school and our world. I chose to help with the school’s waste diversion program, specifically educating fellow students on how to sort the lunch-room waste into the categories of “Compost”, “Recycle”, and “Landfill”. I then transported the sorted waste into dumpsters outside. Up until 11th grade (2010-2011), I worked under the guidance of Mr. Grindel. During that time, I served as our school’s ambassador to “Future Friday”, the high school work shop session of the Fort Collins Sustainable Living Fair. In May of 2011, I earned the Polaris High School's “Service to Penguins” award. I was lauded for “Putting the needs of the community before themselves, the above named student is always ready to volunteer for activities, lead the charge into service opportunities, and give almost endlessly of their time and energy.”
Present Day
This year, Mr. Grindel stepped down from running the “Trash Talkers” program and I became the President. Under my direction, the “Trash Talkers” is a student run program. At present, our program continues to focus mainly on the diversion of school waste into a three stream systems; waste, compost, and recycle. I have broadened our program to incorporate the entire school and work closely with the school janitorial and kitchen staff to achieve a school-wide program. I have directed the placement of recycle and trash bins in every classroom. I have also implemented the kitchen waste composting in addition to student lunch-room composting.
Under my leadership, we have added additional green programs. For instance, I instigated a policy of switching the lights off in empty classrooms. I also encouraged Polaris High School to occasionally have day-long service intensives to help the environment of our community.
Finally, I guide the green education of our feeder elementary and middle schools students so that they can fully participate in the “Trash Talkers” program after I graduate.
Daily Schedule
The “Trash Talkers” have a basic daily routine that starts with the daily breakfast service. Upon arrival we sort the waste from the school's breakfast program by removing plastic cups and plates from the compost and placing them in the proper bins. At lunch we sort out all the incorrect waste placement from the previous middle and elementary school lunches (often times digging through such lovely items as mashed potatoes, pie, and occasionally whole rotting pumpkins) and then monitoring the waste station throughout high-school lunches to ensure correct bin placement.
Looking Ahead
I am very excited to be leading the charge in my Polaris High School's efforts to limit our solid wasted disposal and to divert the recyclable and compostable waste towards more beneficial waste management streams. In addition to being the right way to manage our waste, the “Trash Talker” program has also saved our school money. We pay less to the disposal company because the charge is much less to take away recyclables and compost. Although I have been involved in this program for years, this is the first year where I have been wholly responsible for running it and supervising everything we do. I am really proud of our program and our accomplishments.

In the future, I my plan to continue to work with and volunteer for environmental programs. I have been accepted to and plan to attend Montana State University and they have a variety of green student initiative for me to get involved. After my college education, wherever I end up living, I know that I will continue to help make my community sustainable.
Date: December 26, 2011 Views: 6405 File size: 26.8kb, 1569.3kb : 1381 x 1530
Hours Volunteered: 1350
Volunteers: 5
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 18 & 14 to 18
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