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ODA Junior Encourages Environmentalism on Campus

An Out-of-Door’s Thomas Vicente '23 turns his volunteer experience into a yearlong sustainability project.
As a volunteer for Sunshine Community Compost, Thomas Vicente '23 enjoyed helping transform a vacant lot in Sarasota into a community garden with a compost pile. Thomas says he was a perfect workhorse for the group composed primarily of older people who loved having his help. With the knowledge he gained and enthusiasm he developed, Thomas knew he wanted a composting group included in the options for the Upper School's club offerings. Thus inspired, Thomas proposed a "Sustainability Club," however he didn't find other students who shared this interest. 

When the club didn't materialize, Mr. Tim Brewer, reached out to ODA's Director of Facilities, Mr. Dan Dennehy, who also has an interest in expanding sustainability practices on campus. Mr. Dennehy quickly connected with Thomas and the two assembled several composting bins for him to experiment with over the course of the year.

"Thomas is very active in a local community compost program and volunteers on a regular basis. He wants to bring that expertise to ODA. Together we decided to start a project that he was excited about," said Mr. Dennehy. "The goal is twofold–create an active composting program to support a student-led community farm, and be able to show the results to next fall's club presentations. My hope is that the interest in participating will be substantially better."

Since the bins have started, Thomas has learned a lot about balancing food waste with wood chips, maintaining a perfect dampness, and learning to recognize all of the signs that the bins are healthy. 

"A healthy composter has no bad odor," says Thomas, "In fact, a healthy composter has a kind of sweet smell."

What happens with all the compost Thomas is creating? It's donated to the botany club of which he is an honorary member! We look forward to watching the progress Thomas makes and the evolution and success of the Sustainability Club!
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