Student Recycling Contest Results in Recycling Champions and Creative Projects

The Town of Rutherfordton has set a goal to be a community leader in recycling efforts and to educate our citizens on the sustainable practice of recycling. This effort is both one of environmental sustainability and economic benefit to the Town. In an effort to educate about the benefits of recycling the Town partnered with the McConnell Group to launch a recycling education campaign. The McConnell Group has assisted in a focused campaign that bridges many aspects of the Town to reach a broad audience. This included flyers, a video, social media posts, promotional material, art contests, & signs. 

The highlight of this year’s campaign was to forge a partnership with our local schools to invigorate our youth to be recycling champions. This was realized by a superhero themed Team Recycle contest aimed at elementary students to learn more about what can be recycled and how to best encourage recycling at home.  The contest was a sheer effort to keep up with how many items the student could recycle over the course of a week. The teacher of the winning classroom was also awarded a prize to assist in continuing to educate about the benefits of recycling. In coming years the Town is looking to grow this program to other area schools and expand the programs interactive learning to focus more on the benefits of recycling.
The winners from Rutherfordton Elementary include from left to right:  Ms. Benfield (winning teacher), Easton Zaffuto (5th grade winner), Harmony Bradley and Christian West (4th grade winners), and Brandon Mcallister (3rd grade winner). Not pictured: Aaron Pressley was the 2nd grade winner and overall winner for the school.  

We extended our recycling project to include middle schoolers as well and issued them a “Recycling Challenge”. It called for students to brainstorm ideas to recycle through reuse. To qualify the had to use  materials gathered at home and to repurpose them in a creative way to make a new product. R-S Middle School students surprised us with some very inventive submissions that made it difficult to choose a winner. We launched a social media poll to assist in picking the winners and the community voted on their top three favorites out of the six finalists. Just like at the Elementary School the teacher with the most submissions was awarded a prize to assist with furthering recycling education.

Winners of the recycling challenge at R.S. Middle School from left to right: Front Row: Christina Thomas (4th place for her Christmas tree made from recycled book pages), Shelby Deviney (Top Winner for her metal animal sculptures) Aaron Mull (2nd place for his pallet bench he is sitting on), Kaitlyn Diehm (Tied for 3rd place for her bottle garden flower) Back Row: Dr. Keith Silver (Principal), Zaquoyah Card (5th place for her Skittles candy purse), Mayor Jimmy Dancy.  Not Pictured: Ms. Erica Phillips (winning Teacher) “Overall we are pleased with this first year's program and cannot wait to grow the program to reach more of our community” stated Town Manager Doug Barrick. Mayor Dancy assisted in the presentation of the awards and thanked the students and teachers for participating in the program for both their creativity and how they have inspired others both young and old to recycle, thus persevering the sustainability of our community for generations to come. 

The best part of this program is that if you want to participate at home or maybe your student missed the opportunity, all of the program materials are available on the Town website at . We encourage everyone to learn more about the benefits of recycling and to look for ways to expand the way you recycle. Your efforts are both helping the environment and helping to keep Town costs lower as recycling is much more economical than handling traditional trash and the associated landfill fees.

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