News

Lower School Receives Grant to Minimize Food Waste

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Food waste is the single largest component of waste sent for disposal, much of which ends up in landfills, where it generates methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.” Lower School students are taking action to ensure that ODA isn’t contributing to this harmful pollution.
This past March, Ms. Michelle Ulrich and members of the Lower School Student Admissions Team conducted a food waste audit. On that day, all Lower School students, faculty, and staff participated in the event designed to gather information about how much food was discarded on the campus in a typical day.

After the data was analyzed, the findings showed that the Siesta Key Campus actually had very little waste and that the majority of the ongoing sustainability efforts were proving successful. There was one area, however, that the data pointed to where the campus could improve: composting.

Knowing they could do more, Ms. Ulrich applied, and was awarded, the Dewitt E. and Vera M. Hooker Grant through FCIS. This grant, which was matched by our Parent Association, will be used to get the composting initiative off the ground during the 2019-2020 academic year.

Head of Lower School Mrs. Horner, our new STEM teacher Ms. Wilson, and Ms. Ulrich met with Mr. Randy Penn, Sarasota County's Waste Reduction Agent, to discuss composting and get his insight and support prior to the start of school. In addition to Mr. Penn’s experience, the students at Siesta Key will receive ongoing support from Ms. Jenny Kaurinki, one of ODA’s substitute teachers who is extremely knowledgeable about composting, and part of the Bee Ridge Park Community Garden.

At last week’s assembly, Ms. Ulrich spoke to the student body about the findings from last March’s food audit. She then introduced the composting initiative, explaining how the campus will have both traditional composters as well as vermicompost (worm composters.) Students then participated in a hands-on activity to teach what waste materials are compostable and which are not.

Ms. Wilson and the Green Team Cluster will implement the initial phase of the project, with all classes taking part to help with sorting compostable waste after lunch, turning the compost occasionally, and helping to bag up the soil in 3-4 months when the first harvest is ready. The intention is that we will use the soil in the gardens on the Siesta Key Campus, and if we produce enough, we will sell it to raise money which will be used to support the sustainability initiative on campus.

To share ODA’s message of the importance of sustainability practices, Ms. Ulrich will be a presenter speaking about ODA’s journey at the FCIS conference this November in Orlando. We applaud the efforts of Ms. Ulrich, Ms. Wilson, the Green Team Cluster, and the entire Lower School community, and look forward to supporting this initiative as it moves forward.
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The Out-of-Door Academy

LOWER SCHOOL |  Historic Siesta Key Campus  |  Pre-K – Grade 5
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