The circle of life is a marvelous thing.
Fourth-graders at Hillcrest Elementary School in Oak Harbor, Washington, have created an award-winning environmental program that reduces waste and provides fresh produce to local food banks, KING 5 News reported. Their secret ingredients for success? Rotten lunch food, chickens and worm feces.
The school’s “Green Team” channels the natural food chain for their program, which involves a school garden and on-site chicken coop. Discarded food from student lunches is dumped into a large bed of worms, which turn the food into fertilizer used for the school’s garden, the news outlet reported. Produce from the garden, along with eggs from the chickens, is then donated to local food pantries.
"All this food we're not eating is turning into stuff we can eat," fourth-grader Jada Miller told KING 5 News. "It's like a weird cycle. It's fascinating."
Hillcrest was honored on April 22 as a Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education for their innovative program, HeraldNet reported. They were among 58 schools awarded for environmental awareness initiatives. The summary provided in Hillcrest’s nominee presentation form for the award describes how the school uses their garden as both a teaching tool and way to reduce an environmental impact. Students tend to the garden and harvest the produce, collect eggs and feed the chickens.
"They feel like they're playing and they are, but they're learning. It's been very easy to get them on board with these sorts of things," teacher Jodi Crimmins told KING 5 News.
Of course, integrating worms and animals into the program definitely makes it appealing to the school’s young students, too. As fourth grader Jada told the news outlet, “worm poop is amazing.”
Indeed, it is.
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