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At the recent Seafood Festival, 13 Cedar Key students volunteered to monitor the three recycling/trash sites that were set up in the city park to maximize the capture rate of all recyclables.
This was also done at the Arts Festival this past spring but there was one major difference this time: Students organized this recycle effort and were the team leaders. The Energy Advisory Panel (EAP) festival weekend volunteer, Larry Feldman, simply helped to facilitate what the students wanted to do.
The student’s goal was to educate people about recycling and to ensure that the recyclable material went in the proper bins. Clam shells went into the clam shell bins so that they can be recycled to create oyster habitat and trash went into the trash bin. Prior to having monitored trash sites at the festivals, almost everything got mixed together, resulting in extra trips to the landfill, at extra cost to the city.
Students qualify for both community service hours and Environmental Scholarship points for their volunteer time at the Seafood Festival. This recycling project is a result of the Environmental Scholarship, because the EAP wanted to provide the kids with opportunities to acquire scholarship points. But, the scholarship was also established to develop leadership skills in our kids.
Environmental awareness, acting responsibly and taking a leadership role are the lessons that these kids will carry with them long after they graduate from school, as well as, earning scholarship points.
During the festival, the students also collected 300 Florida DEP 2011 America Recycles pledges from festival participants who pledged to be a recycler or renew their commitment to recycling for the next year.
Last year the Cedar Key School won Florida’s Recycle Pledge Drive contest and won a computer for their school. With 300 pledges already in hand, our very small school will once again be competing against other Florida schools with thousands of students.
Hopefully, readers did not miss the Energy Advisory Panel’s entry into the parade. Our entry not only included three students (with over-the-top energy) parading in “The Recyclables” costumes that were designed and created by Connie Nelson but also Connie’s newest artistic creation called the “Bottle Monster.”
The design and creation of the costumes and float was part of the summer art program. It combined Connie’s talents and dedication with student’s time and interest in earning Environmental Scholarship points.
The “Bottle Monster” float made quite a statement about our usage and disposal of plastic bottles, especially water bottles. All of this bottled water really does not make sense. It is several times more expensive than tap water and a lot of the time that is all that it is, tap water from some place else. We spend the money, have a plastic bottle to dispose of, and ironically, most of the time there is no difference in quality.
Utilizing your own reusable container filled with tap water is a good decision both economically and environmentally. If you have concerns about your water quality, you can always buy a filter that is attached to your faucet or you can purchase a water container with a filter built in.
The Cedar Key Seafood Festival gave our students an opportunity to inspire us all with the successful completion of their leadership and volunteer goals. I know that their inspiration will help us in the future defeat of the “Bottle Monster.”
Submitted by Tom Deverin