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Carter Middle Ecology Club
Strawberry Plains, TN

Carter Middle School is part of the Knox County Schools system and has an enrollment of 762 students.  The Ecology Club was formed for the first time in the fall of 2010.  Through its partnership with the Ijams Nature Center Earth Flag program, the Ecology Club has been able to achieve its goal of reducing school trash through establishing a recycling and composting program.   In the fall, the Club bought blue paper recycling bins for each classroom and labeled certain large bins in the hallways for paper recycling (1).  The club also purchased several large bins to place in the auditorium, cafeteria, and hallways to recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans.  The Club members were also responsible for collecting the paper from the recycling bins and taking it out the paper recycling dumpster outside (2).   The school does not have plastic or aluminum recycling dumpsters so parents take turns taking it to the recycling center. 

In addition to establishing the school’s recycling program, the Ecology Club worked to establish a composting program.  Using money donated from the PTSO, the Club was able to purchase a Tumbleweed compost bin.  In order to ensure that the students were knowledgeable about composting, the Club advisors invited the school’s Ijams Earth Flag representative Josephine Chu to teach lessons on composting for the entire 6th grade.  During the 6th grade lunch period, two Club members would stand by the compost and recycling bins to remind students on what could and could not be recycled or composted.  The members also put up a poster in the cafeteria listing what could be composted and lined the food collection bin with newspaper to ensure for easier clean up (3 & 4).  After 6th grade lunch was over, the members would take the food waste out to the Tumbleweed, add dried leaves, and then turn it to help speed the decomposition process (5 & 6).  Although this year the Ecology Club only collected food waste from the 6th graders, they plan to include the 7th graders next year.   

In May, the Ijams Earth Flag program invited Carter Middle to Ijams Nature Center for a hike and picnic to celebrate the club’s achievements that school year (7).  For the school’s Night of the Arts event, the Ecology Club made a display to show other parents and students what the Club was able to accomplish this school year (8 & 9).  As a fun craft and fundraiser, the members sold beads and hair bows/ ornaments members had made using old magazines (8).  For all of Ecology Club’s hard work and accomplishments in reducing the school’s waste, the Ijams Earth Flag program awarded the school with an Earth Flag (10). 

The Ecology Club was able to plant some daffodil bulbs this year, which bloomed into gorgeous flowers, but for the 2011-2012 school year, they would like to further green the campus by planting a garden, using the compost produced from this year’s composting program.