Worm Wizards project helps address waste minimization, composting, and recycling

Grantee: North Coast Conservation & Development Council – Santa Rosa, CA

Project Title: Worm Wizards of Waste Expansion Project

Grant Type: ecoSolution

Description: North Coast Conservation & Development Council received a grant award in support of their Worm Wizards of Waste project for environmental education and on-the-ground change. The project addressed waste minimization, composting, and recycling as part of their climate change actions. They partnered with Anderson Valley Elementary School (AVES), where over 85% of the students receive free or reduced price meals. AVES is a rural school, located in a predominantly agricultural valley bisected by Highway 128 which connects coastal northern California with the interior coastal range valleys. Enrollment in 2016-2017 was 276 students.

The program first reached 6th graders at the school through added assembly programs. The project included classroom lessons (“Recycling Changes Everything”) and outreach throughout the entire school and then secondarily to parents with “take-home” materials.
One highlight was when older students taught younger students how to recognize and sort different food scrap wastes into recycled, re-used, pig food, composted, and landfill garbage, with a goal of having all waste removed from the landfill waste stream. The younger students were given pictures of various waste types which were sorted into bins during a competitive and fun relay race in the auditorium. The pictorial representations of waste which could be diverted from landfilling were later utilized in the cafeteria by the waste disposal containers.

Continuous impact/Community engagement: After the program deployment and with the contributions from an informed administrative staff, nearly 100% of the waste generated at the school is diverted from landfilling. They also expanded our outreach at AVES and included “take home” information so that parents could learn about vermicomposting and begin beneficial climate change practices at home. The CPF funding was used to purchase durable supplies for building long-lasting vermicomposters, and these continue to be utilized currently, well after the completion of the initial program.

Project extension: Like this project and looking to take a deeper dive into soil health? Take the Soil Quest on the Project Hero platform by Captain Planet Foundation. This Quest offers pathways for teachers and students to engage with outdoor spaces through meaningful and relevant projects. There are small grant opportunities related to each registered Quest, providing funds to help support the implementation of associated projects. And it is free and available for everyone.