Elementary School Training: Karen's View

by Karen Wiseman

Students at Johnson Elementary School watch a training video about composting
Students at Johnson Elementary School watch a training video about composting
See also - Elementary School Training: Maia's View

As General Manager, I don’t often get the opportunity to put my boots on the ground…or should I say, boots on the banana peel?  I did get that chance to help our Americorps member, Maia, to work with students, teachers and staff at Johnson Elementary School.  As part of our USDA Close The Loop! Rural Vermont program, we are working with  Johnson Elementary School to get ready to start separating their food scraps next week. 

I was able to see Maia in action and participate in training 7 classrooms of students in what composting is, why we compost, and how we separate food scraps for composting.  I was over the moon happy to explain that their left over food was going to be picked up by a local farmer, John Hayden, at The Farm Between. He is going to feed their food waste to his chickens, then to his worms, and will be able to provide eggs and healthy veggies grown in compost, all made from their left over food!

One second grade boy explained to me…that everything has a cycle, like a star that eventually explodes or a baby growing up to an adult.”

To see their clear understanding of a closed loop food system was priceless. The kids excitedly jumped into an activity putting elements of their current food system in order, then taking out the trash/landfill and substituting it with collecting food scraps and composting. They quickly realized this new approach is a circle, and that circles don’t have a beginning or end. One second grade boy explained to me, with his hands deep in our bucket of compost, that everything has a cycle, like a star that eventually explodes or a baby growing up to an adult, just like compost growing food then making more compost. My heart was lifted and I felt so much hope for the future. 

The day was exhausting, with back-to-back 30 minute classroom trainings all day. My thanks go to the teachers and administrators for undertaking this program. Yes, it is the right thing to do, but at the same time, they have very little time in their days to fit in trainings like this. They have an awful lot to deliver already every day. 

The students were incredible: they were excited, intelligent, and it was clear that they care about their environment.  I am excited knowing that I don’t stand alone in caring for our environment and our health and our communities.  I am excited to see that our next generation gets it and that many of them are already composting at home.

Karen Wiseman As Highfields' general manager, ensures the office runs smoothly, staff and customers are happy, and our work gets accomplished on time and on budget. She is honored to have a part to play in reshaping how we feed ourselves and care for the earth.