Food recycling effort pays off

Staff Writer

PLUMSTED – When it comes to protecting the environment, the United States has the Environmental Protection Agency, New Jersey has the Department of Environmental Protection, and the New Egypt Middle School has the Eco-Warriors for the World.

Consisting of 10 sixth-graders and their team adviser, teacher Tara Melchior, the Eco-Warriors has been awarded $10,000 in scholarships and grants in the Scholastic Lexus Eco Challenge. The group will have a chance to win one of two $30,000 grand prizes next month.

More than $500,000 in scholarship money has been up for grabs since January, with groups from across the nation being tasked with identifying an environmental issue in their community and developing an action plan to tackle the problem.

According to Melchior, the New Egypt Middle School students devised a project that aimed to reduce the amount of refuse being created in the cafeteria.

“I am very proud of the Eco-Warriors for finding a simple, attainable solution to a problem they felt was impacting our school,” Melchior said.

Rather than just throwing out unused food or other decomposable waste, the group’s members developed and implemented a composting program for the school. The compost generated by their efforts will be donated to the township.

“I am grateful that we can change our town into a healthier and greener place,” said Jessica Shoblock, one of the students who took part in the project. “I hope we inspire other people to recycle and make sure they know how much hard work we do.”

About 18 pounds of waste has been kept from landfills on a daily basis as a result of the composting program, according to information provided about the Eco-Warriors.

The Eco-Warriors are one of eight teams in the Eastern Region to earn the initial $10,000 prize during the “Land and Water” phase. Melchior was awarded $1,000 and the middle school received $2,000 to be used for future educational programs.

The remaining $7,000 will be split evenly among the 10 students — Peyton Samuelson, Samantha Weber, Sean Lowe, Zachary Young, Cruz Jasso, Raychel Laning, Juliana Byrne, Kara Johnson, Holly Wetzel and Jessica Shoblock.

“[The team has] shown amazing leadership in becoming role models for other students and working toward becoming lifelong environmental stewards,” Melchior said.

The winners for the final challenge, and its $30,000 prize, will be announced next month.