When Nancy Stoy, Green Team Leader and head custodian at Lacamas Lake Elementary, found out that the district was putting all food waste composting on hiatus, she knew she had to do something. Lacamas Lake Elementary has been uniquely committed to sustainability over the years, earning a gold certification status from EarthGen in several categories. At the helm of the school's many sustainability initiatives is Nancy Stoy: a dedicated environmental champion who established a Green Team that provides over 50 students with a sense of community. She knew that losing the school's composting program would have negative impacts on not only the school's carbon footprint but also the lives of her Green Team members.
The first solution the Lacamas Lake Green Team came up with was sending the school's food scraps to the home of one of its members, with the assistance of a helpful parent. For about a month, the scraps went to the family's pigs and chickens. This, however, was not a viable long-term plan. If Lacamas Lake was going to continue composting, they would need help.
That's when Nancy came up with the idea to have students in each classroom write letters describing why composting at Lacamas Lake is important. She received an overwhelming number of letters from impassioned students writing about how composting protects ecosystems and the health of the planet. "Even kids that have never done Green Team know the importance of recycling and composting," says Nancy. This made the letters that much more impactful. The drive to bring back composting was not just coming from one small group but rather every corner of the school.
The Lacamas Lake Green Team sent the letters to district leadership and received good news: the district was restoring composting services across the district. Thanks to Nancy's leadership and the eager involvement of students throughout the school, Lacamas Lake was able to keep all six of their compost carts. Five other schools retained their bins as well. "I believe if something is important to you and your students then it is worth fighting for," Nancy asserts.
Unforeseen challenges are an inescapable part of pursuing a greener future. Successes like the Lacamas Lake Green Team's efforts to protect their valued composting program, however, exemplify that commitment, perseverance, and teamwork go a long way.
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