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Issue 2 Spring 2014 The Sustainable Schools program in Routt County helps to create a culture in schools to advance environmental, economic and social sustainability for current and future generations. Established in 2010, Sustainable Schools is an outreach and educational arm of the nonprofit Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. For more information:

Great Year for Green Teams

Students, teachers, parents and volunteers across Routt County have been busy this school year learning about and helping the environment through a variety of school Green Team or Eco Club projects. Here are a few examples from various schools: Emerald Mountain School • Initiated school Green Team • Conducted waste audit • Raised funds for new recycling and upcycling bins for each classroom • Added Green Thought of the Week to school’s electronic newsletter Lowell Whiteman School • Construction of greenhouse on campus by students in the Sustainable Agriculture Program with many materials sourced from Home Resource North Routt Community Charter School • Initiated school Green Team • Hosted several educational zero waste meals • Participated in ReTree planting on school grounds Soda Creek Elementary • Implementation of composting of student food waste in cafeteria, collecting more than 40 pounds weekly • Parent volunteer manned cafeteria waste station on Mondays • Zero waste education for packed lunches Steamboat Springs High School • Eco Club completed work to become official chapter of National Association of Biology Teachers’ High School Biology Club, allowing seniors to compete for scholarship and receive green graduation cords • Provided reusable plates to SSHS staff for use in cafeteria • Disseminated information about Spare the Air non-idling campaign and greener holiday celebrations • Helped to plant seedlings for new school greenhouse • Hosted screening of environmental film “A Fierce Green Fire” • Worked with school administration to limit off-hour power use on school TV screens • Advocated for and manned a zero waste meal for more than 600 visiting educators • Participating for fifth year to collect gently used school supplies through Clean Out the Classroom program

Steamboat Springs Middle School • Hosted environmental films after school • Schoolwide involvement in Two Weeks to Take Charge energy challenge with motivation by student energy ninjas • Waste reduction contest in cafeteria during Earth Week won by sixth-grade class • Co-hosted Earth Week Film Festival at Steamboat library • Earth Week distribution of donated native seed packets and reusable snack bags • 100 students calculated their carbon footprint and pledged specific goals toward reduction • Local Food Awareness month in May including tower gardens growing project at school, Elkstone Farm field trip and seed-starting party to help plan summer gardens at home • Parent volunteer worked to reduce unwanted junk mail in school office • Created permanent storage area for recycled school supplies collected during Clean Out the Classroom Steamboat Springs School District Office • Initiated energy performance contract • Parent volunteer worked to reduce unwanted junk mail Strawberry Park Elementary • Fourth graders studying civic involvement presented to Steamboat City Council advocating for plastic bag use reduction measures • Manning compost and recycling stations at zero waste events Yampa Valley High School • Hosted several educational zero waste meals

Stay tuned for an update on the 2014 Energy Challenge Results!

Standout Students in Sustainability

Mason Voyvodic, a fifth-grader at Emerald Mountain School, is an “overwhelmingly positive contributor to the Green Team,” said Faculty Advisor Cindy Ruzicka. “He walks the walk. Mason always packages his snacks and lunch items in reusable containers. He uses recycled paper in the classroom. He encourages his friends to be more green in a friendly and informative manner. He is growing vegetables in his backyard this summer. He and his family try to shop locally and organically.” (pictured right) Liz Ruzicka, a sixth-grader at Steamboat Springs Middle School, has been dedicated to the school’s Green Team, said teacher sponsor Carly Ziegler: “Liz has been particularly active in helping with team efforts and never misses a meeting. She not only is interested in reading and learning about any environmental injustices but has been active in finding and promoting solutions in her own community by attending the student Green Team Summit and actively promoting all Earth Week activities.” (pictured below)



Changes Coming for Local Upcycling Collections

Buying lunch items in bulk and packing in reusable containers is best, but sometimes single-serving packaging slips into the lunchtime mix. To lower waste, five schools in Routt County collect certain pouches and wrappers to upcycle through TerraCycle, a national company which turns difficult-to-recycle packaging into innovative products. Sustainable Schools collects this packaging in bulk amounts to mail to TerraCycle for rebate funding. The collection has been so successful that a change in coming for next school year. Schools will be asked to sort collected packaging into three categories, and all food and liquid waste must be removed. Items NOT accepted that commonly contaminate the local collections include candy wrappers, fruit chew wrappers, applesauce pouches and yogurt squeeze packages.

Accepted items include:

Chip Bags Drink Pouches - Aluminum and plastic drink pouches or drink pouches with spouts Bar Wrappers - Foil-lined wrappers from energy, granola or protein bars, Honey Stinger wrappers, wrappers from Clif Bar products Shot Blocks, Shot Gels, Shot Drinks.


Small Electronics Recycling Benefits Sustainable Schools

As an environmental effort and a fundraiser for Sustainable Schools, four dropoff locations are available for the public to safely and responsibly recycle used small personal electronics for free. Collection boxes are available in the lobby of the middle and high schools while school is in session. Electronics from laptops and smaller are collected year-round at YVSC office at 141 Ninth St. Accepted electronics include: old cell phones, smart phones, cell phone batteries and chargers, iPods, MP3 players, digital cameras, tablets, aircards and bluetooth, ink and toner cartridges, laptops, GPS devices and headphones. All of the smaller items, aside from tablets and laptops, also may be deposited in the cell phone collection box in the Wells Fargo Bank lobby on Lincoln Avenue.

SSSD Pursuing Energy Efficiency

Starting spring 2014, the Steamboat Springs School District leadership embarked on energy audits at buildings and an energy performance contract with Navitas with the goals of completing necessary upgrades and saving $200,000 in annual utility costs. Navitas employees and Pascal Ginesta, SSSD facilities manager, studied past energy use in the district to help formulate the plan. Subcontractors were hired to replace: interior and exterior lighting throughout district facilities with more efficient fixtures; boilers at the district office; boilers, valve components and HVAC controls at the high school; and insufficient exterior doors and windows from the 1980s at the middle school and Strawberry Park Elementary.

Tower Gardens installed in SS Middle School

This March parent Lauri Aigner, also a Steamboat Springs School District nutritional services employee, started vegetable seeds for use in two “tower gardens� in a program funded by LiveWell Northwest Colorado. In late April, sixth-graders from the middle school Green Team transplanted the seedlings into the indoor, aeroponic The Steamboat Springs Middle School Green Team hosted a fun and interesting gardening towers (photo below). Aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or educational week before Earth Day. Some mist environment without the use of soil or an aggregate medium. 100 students calculated their carbon Aigner started with lettuce, kale, spinach, basil, parsley and edamame because footprint and pledged to reduce that level those vegetables grow the fastest in order for students to harvest by the end of the with specific goals (photo above). The school year (bottom photo). Science teacher and Green Team sponsor Carly Zeigler team hosted a waste contest in the cafeteria to see which grade level of diners added soil-sprouted strawberries. The ultimate goal is to grow lunch produce year-round. could produce the least amount of trash. Learn more at The sixth-grade class won. (photo below)


Students Involved in ReTree Plantings; Families Can Volunteer June 9

Students have played an important role in the local ReTree program including past plantings on several school grounds. Now in its fifth year, ReTree 2014 includes plantings in Clark, Hayden and Steamboat. This spring North Routt Community Charter School is getting involved planting more than 200 trees and shrubs on the school grounds. Families can help with a volunteer planting day on June 9 along the core trail in Steamboat - making this year’s planting location accessible to all abilities - a first for ReTree! Check-in is 9:30 a.m. on June 9 at the Steamboat Community Center north of downtown. Sign up in advance at or 970-871-9299. Volunteers will plant some 500 seedlings on the Yampa River Core Trail between the James Brown Bridge and the Bear River Bike Park to beautify this section of trail and diversify tree species in the area. The event also will feature a ReTree Art Show and Sustainability Expo of free, family-friendly and educational displays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Community Center. The expo will include music and a barbecue lunch. Each year the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council engages youth in the long-term care of the new trees. This year some 200 students will assist in planting, monitoring and watering the seedlings though partnerships with the Service Learning Corps, Community Youth Corps, 4-H and school groups. The work helps youth establish an appreciation for forests, learn about scientific monitoring practices, and earn a sense of satisfaction through the care and survival of trees. This ongoing, hands-on involvement significantly adds to the odds of seedling survival. If a family or group would like to adopt a section of trees, please contact YVSC at or 970-8719299 to get into the watering rotation.

Clean out the Classroom

Each year the Sustainable Schools program helps school Green Teams organize an end-of-the-year Clean Out the Classroom collection so that any reusable school supplies do not go to waste. Students are encouraged to take home good supplies for reuse in the future. However, if families don’t want to keep supplies, collection boxes will be provided in school hallways as lockers, desks and rooms are cleaned out the last weeks of school. Students and volunteers gather and organize the supplies to keep in school reuse cabinets for students in need in the future. For example, each year the Eco Club students at Steamboat Springs High School clean up tall stacks of used binders. Or used pages can be pulled from partially used notebooks. Any supplies not needed at the schools are donated to the Boys & Girls Club or to Colorado Student Care. Last year, some 40 pounds of loose crayons were donated to the club (photo below). If you can volunteer for a few hours organizing supplies, especially on the last day of school, contact

Sixth-grade students involved in the Green Team at Steamboat Springs Middle School were an active and enthusiastic group this school year. Maria Linna and son Luca make ReTree an annual family day.

Get Involved in Sustainable Schools

Student, staff, teacher, parent and community support and partnerships are always welcome at Sustainable Schools. The program hosts a networking and sharing meeting at 4:15 p.m. the third Thursday of the month during the school year at the YVSC office, located inside the Victorian-style building at the corner of 9th and Oak streets downtown. To learn more, contact Sarah Jones at or 970-871-9299 ext. 101.

Sustainable Schools Green News Spring 2014  

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's school newsletter for Green Teams. More at: