Leader Blues

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

TOP STORY >> Pupils get recycling lesson

By NANCY DOCKTER
Leader staff writer

At the tender ages of 9 and 10, a select group of Cabot public school students are being challenged to think about the future well-being of planet Earth.

As part of an instructional unit introduced this January, all third- and fourth-graders in the district’s gifted and talented program took an in-depth look at lifestyle habits and professions that help the environment and conserve natural resources. They were asked to consider, “If we don’t do these things today, what will our world be like in the future?”

Teachers and the educational specialist for the Cabot schools’ gifted and talented program, Melissa Elliott, spent most of last year developing the material for the ecological-awareness unit. Their vision is that their charges – tomorrow’s leaders – will be inspired to become stewards of the Earth.

The unit included Internet research on the three R’s of conservation – reducing, reusing and recycling; making an edible landfill to understand its composition and environmental risks; and reading and writing about a “green” job of choice.

The culmination was taking the morning of April 24 to visit the Jacksonville Recycling Center and adjoining recycling park on Marshall Road.

Students got an up-close look at the workings of the center and learned how materials pulled from the waste stream can be recycled for a myriad of uses.

The park was developed through the efforts of Keep Jacksonville Beautiful and the city of Jacksonville. It has educational displays on composting, a disc golf course, picnic tables and pavilion and a series of plaques about the uses of recycled goods, for which Entergy provided funding.

After returning to school, students were asked to share what they learned from the unit of study and the field trip. Here are what some Magness Creek Elementary School students had to say:

“Before I toured the recycling center, I did not know how bad landfills could be. I really did not think one little person could make a difference. Knowing that one person can make a difference has changed my life and my feelings about recycling.” ­— Avery Elliott, age 10

“What I learned from my field trip is how destructive people can be to our planet in such a short period of time. I wish everyone knew how much damage they cause the Earth by their actions. I wish they would change their actions. If we don’t make these changes, then our future could see us living on a big trash ball.” — Dalton Ailey, age 10

“I learned that it is NOT a sacrifice to switch to compact fluorescent bulbs; in fact, it will lower your light bill. And, it is NOT a sacrifice to take a recycling bin to the curb. I hope people will make a difference by changing their behaviors ... please!” — Lauren Whitmire, age 10

“The Jacksonville Recycling Center really does do great deeds for the Earth and the public. You can even get free mulch made from recycled yard waste. Overall, this trip really changed my mind and I think inspired us all of the little things we can all do to go green.” ­—Elizabeth Rushing, age 10

“I had no idea that the Jacksonville Recycling Center could recycle so many things! I am thinking about getting my family to take all of the extra garbage that we can’t recycle in Cabot to the Jacksonville Recycling Center. I wish my town would recycle as much as Jacksonville.” ­— Brandon Weidling, age 10

“The most important thing that I learned from my green field trip was that you can compost almost anything. If people would compost things more often then landfills would not be as big. It is no sacrifice to use the composted dirt for gardening. The flowers are even prettier in it than from planting soil you buy at the store.” ­— Christen Johnson, age 9

“The most interesting thing I learned is that it takes 700 years for plastic to break down. It was surprising to learn about how we are trashing our own Earth. So, please, help by living by the three R’s: reduce, reuse, recycle. — Victoria Clinton, age 9

“I would tell others that our generation is about throwing away everything. I would also say that we should all get a bin for recycling and start doing our part.” —Manjunath Bettadapura, age 9