Solid waste district educators share lessons
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent August 25, 2013 10:06PM
Heather Seisel, education coordinator for the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District, shows a plastic tub of recycled plastic pellets she passes around to youngsters who participate in her waste district's education programs such as Recycling Superheros. | Carrie Napoleon/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 26, 2013 6:18PM
HAMMOND — Solid waste district educators from the north part of the state spent part of the week in Hammond for “Training the Trainers.”
The training session was sponsored by the Lake County Solid Waste Management District and brought together solid waste district educators and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to learn lesson plans that comply with Department of Education standards.
“There’s an impression some districts are just doing crafty things,” Lisa Perez, IDEM liaison for the Lake County Solid Waste Management District. Perez said the lessons taught by solid waste district educators are more than that and begin to plant the seeds of environmental management in children as young as pre-kindergarten.
Some waste districts are one-person operations, with a director who serves all roles. Others have educators who work within the local school districts. Bringing everyone together helps provide all districts with tools and resources they can use to better educate their residents.
Angela Petyko, educator with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District, said 42 attendees from 28 districts in northern Indiana were participating in the first Training the Trainers event.
Doug Oaks, director of the Fulton County Solid Waste Management District, said his district conducts tours at its recycling facility but currently does little more in the education department.
“In our case, we really don’t have a presence in the school,” Oakes said. He has participated in the education roundtables periodically conducted and is hoping to bring back some of what he learns during the Training the Trainers session to implement in his district.
“I’m so impressed by all of them,” Oakes said.
Attendees watched fellow educators share their successful lesson plans with hands-on demonstrations. Heather Seisel, education coordinator for the Bartholomew County Solid Waste Management District, shared “Recycling Superheroes” with the group, a program geared toward pre-kindergarten through second grade students. She said the key to reaching the younger children with the reduce, reuse, recycle message is participation. Part of the lesson plan includes reenacting what happens at the recycling center, sorting a pile of “garbage,” cleaned recyclables, into the pile they would go in at the center: glass, plastic, metal, paper and books.
Abe Paluch, outreach educator of the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, said engaging children is the biggest challenge in education outreach.
“The biggest challenge with kids is to get their attention and get them excited. Once they are having fun their minds are open to new messages,” Paluch said.
He said his district is looking at ways to incorporate social media into sharing the message to expand the number of people they are able to reach.
“Using social media to promote the message is a more efficient way to communicate,” Paluch said.