SkillsUSA SkillsUSA Champions Summer 2011 : Page 18

(From left) Through their efforts, Tiffany Gammage, Tanaeja Davis and Tranice George have learned how even one person’s recycling can make a difference. Students weighed the paper and counted plastic items to determine how many trees and how much landfill space they’d saved. They also began to educate other class-mates about the need for recycling. Getting everyone on board wasn’t easy at first. “At the beginning of the year, I was really kind of Sisyphus, pushing uphill every week,” Groesbeck remembers. One of her students, Tiffany Gammage, agrees. “I didn’t really know too much about the environment, and I didn’t really care too much, to tell you the truth.” But the project “really changed my life,” she adds. “It really made me want to do more to help the environment and change what I do as a person. It’s amazing what one person can do to change the environ-ment. Yes, a lot of students at the school, they really didn’t care too much about the environment. Once we started learning, they were like, ‘OK, this is really helpful.’ ” Photo: Ann P. Schreiber One year later, participation is increas-ing and the group’s work expanding. Students help others recycle old cell-phones, batteries and printer cartridges. They’ve hosted Earth Day activities at the school. Through SkillsUSA service grants, they’ve been able to visit nature centers and, at the local Ford factory, learn about “green” manufacturing. And, participating in the Rouge River Education project, the students helped with cleanup and became water quality scientists for a day. ‘We can teach others’ According to the students’ calculations, they’ve already saved 6 square yards of landfill space, Groesbeck says. Just from recycling paper, 1,300 gallons of oil were also saved. “The ripple effect is amazing,” the teacher points out. “And, I think for [students] to recognize that one person can make a difference was huge. My goal is really to get them to recycle for the rest of their lives.” One of them, Tanaeja Davis, says learning how recycling paper can save trees made her feel good. “When I was a kid, I used to climb trees, so when I thought about how many trees were being cut down, I’m like, ‘Oh my God, what can we do?’ ” After a brief shutdown, the waste-to-energy plant looming over the school is under new management. Tranice George, the student who researched its health effects, started out wanting to motivate younger students to recycle. “I never knew how much of an impact a bunch of us collecting paper once a week could do. When I learned that we saved 34 trees, I thought that was outstanding,” she says. George motivated her family as well. “Now we recycle just about everything that we can — phones, electronics. Most of the time, with electronics, you just throw them away. We understand now the importance of recycling them. “We can teach others, and others can teach others,” the student explains. “As easy as you can throw something in the trash, you can throw it in a recycling bin and save so much, and help your environ-ment so much.” Content for Accurate SUCCESS Authoritative Dynamic Choose the best products for Technical / Trades / Techology Goodheart-Willcox Publisher  800.323.0440 U

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