MLPS joins carbon-cutting effortsMOUNTAIN LAKE —Mountain Lake Public School is one of more than 100 public high schools, colleges and universities in the state that has joined Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon, a program that challenges schools to reduce carbon emissions and save energy costs.
By: Laura Grevas, Worthington Daily Globe
MOUNTAIN LAKE —Mountain Lake Public School is one of more than 100 public high schools, colleges and universities in the state that has joined Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon, a program that challenges schools to reduce carbon emissions and save energy costs.
Environmental issues have “become more of a school-wide interest,” said Judy Harder, a Mountain Lake community member who is helping teacher Jaime Banks with the program. “It’s more in our discussion now of how we can improve.”
On Monday, Environmental Resources Management representatives will visit the school, conducting a three-hour walk-through with students and faculty. During that time, according to a press release from Minnesota Schools Cutting Carbon, students will learn about projects to save energy and have the opportunity to operate an infrared camera, thermal anemometer (which measures wind speed), light meter and infrared thermometer.
The area’s Trail Blazer 4-H Club had already begun promoting green initiatives in the school when Banks applied to the program.
The club began a campus-wide recycling program in January after they received a Watonwan Clean Water Partnership for Education Grant to purchase containers. The group of about 10 fourth- through sixth-graders meets weekly to collect recyclables.
“We get out our carts and whip around the building,” Harder said. “We probably save about 600 pounds out of the garbage per month.”
They collect plastic, newspaper, office paper, magazines and aluminum, storing them in a shed funded by the school district and Cottonwood County. From there, the items are picked up and hauled to the recycling center and landfill in Windom, which the club visited on a recent trip.
“I think the students saw a little clearer that there were mountains of stuff,” Harder said. “The landfill will last 22 years at the current rate we are filling it. The question is: Then what? … I think they got the picture.”
Last summer, students also started two community gardens — one near the city’s Heritage Village and one near the Mountain Lake Apartments. The Watonwan grant also provided a water tank for the land.
Students garden at the Heritage Village site, using free seeds from Iowa-based company Seed Savers Exchange to grow their own food: potatoes, tomatoes and onions, to name a few.
Ideally, “those that continue with the community garden through the summer can sell produce in farmers markets or to the school,” Harder said. “I’m trying to think about purchasing local and growing local.”
This fall, the schools will compete for 10 $20,000 grants for the most innovative energy-saving projects. And while Harder is less than optimistic about the grant — the program is intended for students older than the group she’s leading — the school could still benefit from some environmentally-friendly projects.
She said the new recycling program is already better organized than previous efforts and added that “the potential is huge” for initiatives like the community garden.
“Cutting carbon is something I’m personally interested in,” she said. “How does one look at the carbon footprint with a small school in a small town and a very old building?”
Megan Wendorff, a teacher at Round Lake High School, said the Round Lake-Brewster School District may also join the initiative during the 2009-2010 school year.