Shadow Valley students turn lunch leftovers into compost

Apr 23 2013 - 1:09am

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Jansen Stettler (left) and Tanner Leishman, both 12, add fruit and vegetable scraps left over from students’ lunches to the compost pile at Shadow Valley Elementary School on Monday. (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Bryce King (standing), Ogden Nature Center wildlife specialist, brought 12-year-old America bald eagle Des Ta Te for a visit to Shadow Valley Elementary on Monday for the school's Earth Day celebration. King told students including the school's Green Ambassador service club members (pictured) about the decline of the species due to certain pesticides, and the effort it took to bring the species back.  (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Des Ta Te was ready for her closeup Monday after greeting children at Shadow Valley Elementary School for an Earth Day program. The 12-year-old American bald eagle appeared with Bryce King, Ogden Nature Center wildlife specialist. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Shadow Valley Elementary School's 590 students gathered Monday for an Earth Day assembly at the school. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Students at Shadow Valley Elementary School on Monday were awarded a "green" flag by Josh Wennegren (center), of the Utah Society for Environmental Education (USEE). Shadow Valley is the first Ogden School District school to qualify for the environmental education award since the USEE was founded two years ago. Members of the school's Green Ambassador service club hold the flag as principal Don Mendenhall (far right) looks on. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Jansen Stettler, 12 and from Syracuse, weighed himself and composting materials after Monday's school lunch at Shadow Valley Elementary School. By subtracting his own weight, Jansen got the weight of the vegetable scraps and paper waste, which he added to a chart that documents the school's composting effort. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Shadow Valley Elementary School sixth graders Jansen Stettler (kneeling) and Tanner Leishman, both 12, fill in a chart after weighing compostable waste collected after Monday's school lunches. The school keeps a compost pile, and plans to use it in a new vegetable garden this spring. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
As part of an Earth Day program on Monday, sixth graders in Shadow Valley Elementary School's Green Ambassador service club showed school kindergarteners how to sort recycleable and compostable items. Kindergarteners will play the sorting game at lunch every day this week, to strengthen their sorting and recycling skills.4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Jansen Stettler (left) and Tanner Leishman, both 12, add fruit and vegetable scraps left over from students’ lunches to the compost pile at Shadow Valley Elementary School on Monday. (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Bryce King (standing), Ogden Nature Center wildlife specialist, brought 12-year-old America bald eagle Des Ta Te for a visit to Shadow Valley Elementary on Monday for the school's Earth Day celebration. King told students including the school's Green Ambassador service club members (pictured) about the decline of the species due to certain pesticides, and the effort it took to bring the species back.  (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG/Standard-Examiner)
Des Ta Te was ready for her closeup Monday after greeting children at Shadow Valley Elementary School for an Earth Day program. The 12-year-old American bald eagle appeared with Bryce King, Ogden Nature Center wildlife specialist. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Shadow Valley Elementary School's 590 students gathered Monday for an Earth Day assembly at the school. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Students at Shadow Valley Elementary School on Monday were awarded a "green" flag by Josh Wennegren (center), of the Utah Society for Environmental Education (USEE). Shadow Valley is the first Ogden School District school to qualify for the environmental education award since the USEE was founded two years ago. Members of the school's Green Ambassador service club hold the flag as principal Don Mendenhall (far right) looks on. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Jansen Stettler, 12 and from Syracuse, weighed himself and composting materials after Monday's school lunch at Shadow Valley Elementary School. By subtracting his own weight, Jansen got the weight of the vegetable scraps and paper waste, which he added to a chart that documents the school's composting effort. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
Shadow Valley Elementary School sixth graders Jansen Stettler (kneeling) and Tanner Leishman, both 12, fill in a chart after weighing compostable waste collected after Monday's school lunches. The school keeps a compost pile, and plans to use it in a new vegetable garden this spring. 4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)
As part of an Earth Day program on Monday, sixth graders in Shadow Valley Elementary School's Green Ambassador service club showed school kindergarteners how to sort recycleable and compostable items. Kindergarteners will play the sorting game at lunch every day this week, to strengthen their sorting and recycling skills.4/22/13 (NANCY VAN VALKENBURG, Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- Students at Shadow Valley Elementary School finished their lunches and bused their trays, but not before setting aside valuable fruit and vegetable scraps earmarked for composting.

Many Utah schools had activities Monday for Earth Day, but composting at Shadow Valley is something that happens every day of the school year.

"People throw away fruit when it could be used to help the soil," said Tanner Leishman, a sixth-grader from Ogden and a member of Shadow Valley's Green Ambassadors service club. "Making compost is a good thing to do."

Tanner and fellow Green Ambassador Jansen Stettler, also 12 and a sixth-grader from Syracuse, weighed the green waste and marked the amount on a wall chart. The boys carried the bin outside to a compost bin the school has kept for two years. The finished compost will enrich a vegetable garden the school is planting this spring.

"I don't know if Mount Ogden composts," Tanner told Jansen, speaking of the school they will attend next year. "Maybe we will have to start a petition for composting when we get there."

Shadow Valley has many green activities planned for Earth Day week. Events for the 590 students include a tree planting, a playground trash cleanup, a walk/bicycle/carpool to school day, and a natural light day, with limited use of overhead lights.

"Shadow Valley is an environmental science magnet school," Principal Don Mendenhall said. "We get students from surrounding schools who have an interest in environmental science. We have 15 applications so far from students who want to come here next year."

Shadow Valley, built in 2009, was designed to meet high environmental standards. Solar panels on its roof help reduce its utility bills, Mendenhall said.

Sixth-graders said they backed all the school's efforts, especially composting.

"We need to fill in the scars in the earth," said Riley Hansen, 12, of Ogden. "That's why we started composting, to fill the scars other people caused. People waste so much food. They were all excited about cars, machines and coal, and now people with asthma can't go outside some days."

Abbey Blair, 12, of Ogden, said any waste that can be composted should be.

"If you don't compost the things you can, it fills up the landfills," Abbey said. "If you compost, it gives back to the earth."

Jada Ballard, also 12 and from Ogden, said she learned about composting at school, then took the practice home.

"My mom plants tomatoes and zucchinis, and they've grown much better since we started composting. It's a noticeable difference."

Cheyenne Herland is the school's environmental science teacher, and splits her time between Shadow Valley and the Ogden Nature Center.

"My dream is to see people give their children time outside, to pursue whatever their interests may be," said Herland, who studied both botany and anthropology at Weber State University.

"I'd like to see parents spend time outside with their children, if possible, and I'd like them to stop telling their kids not to get dirty. It's only if our children develop personal relationships with nature, and learn to respect it, that our future will change."

An afternoon Earth Day program added to the fun. Des Ta Te, a 12-year-old American bald eagle, made an educational appearance with Bryce King, her Ogden Nature Center handler. Members of the Green Ambassador service club coached kindergartners on how to sort recyclables and compost material, turning the process into a game. Students got awards for posters, heard a presentation on air pollution, and sang an original song about recycling to protect the Earth's resources.

Josh Wennegren, from the Utah Society for Environmental Education (www.usee.org) awarded Shadow Valley Elementary a green flag to recognize the school's documented efforts in the areas of sustainable practices, sustainable facility, environmental education and community involvement.

"The kids are great," Mendenhall said. "They are very conscious about conserving energy and aware of the need to protect the environment. I am very proud of my students."

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