Students in Whitehall-Yearling High School teacher Jamie Williams' classroom didn't think much of her pro-environment message at first, but her continuing effort's impact is apparent now with the expansion of the school's recycling program.
Williams teaches biology and environmental sciences at Whitehall-Yearling High School. She said her students have taken notice of her lessons, encouraging their classmates and family members to recycle.
Patrick Danko also teaches environmental science at Whitehall-Yearling and is working in concert with Williams in the push.
With the assistance of a $500 grant from the Whitehall Education Foundation, Whitehall-Yearling purchased 18 recycling bins that have been placed in classrooms at the school, Williams said.
Recycling bins have been available at the school for the past three years but were not regularly used, she said.
The bins were not easily distinguishable from trash cans and often were used for garbage that can't be recycled, Williams said.
"I was frustrated that we were not recycling," she said. "Some teachers were taking recyclables from the school (to their homes), and even some students talked about it."
Williams and Danko began talking about the issue to their students, then sought a grant from the Whitehall Education Foundation.
The grant helped purchase larger bins that were conspicuously placed in classrooms this month to encourage recycling.
Among the students helping to promote the program are juniors Chris Charles and India Harvey.
"Mrs. Williams gave us the idea about how we could help (by recycling)," said Charles, 17.
"I didn't care much about it at first, but then Mrs. Williams told us how much (not recycling) can hurt the environment," Charles said.
To promote the effort, Charles made and uploaded a video that illustrates the benefit of recycling.
The video can be viewed at ThisWeekNews.com/whitehall.
Charles said he also is encouraging his family members to recycle more often at home.
Likewise, Harvey, 17, said she wasn't initially moved when Williams first began to discuss recycling, and about the disposal of solid waste into landfills.
"But the more she said, the more I began to listen and understand where all the trash goes that isn't recycled," Harvey said.
Harvey is encouraging other students to recycle at school through public morning announcements and, like Charles, encourages her family to recycle as much as possible.
The students' efforts haven't stopped here.
Through a fundraising effort via donorschoose.org, students met a fundraising goal of $679 within 24 hours, Williams said.
The money will be used to purchase 21 additional recycling bins.
On Feb. 15, students in each of the environmental science classes presented projects to other students, parents and the community during Recycle Night.
Students collected canned food for admission to the event, where they showed projects such as clothing, artwork and sculptures made from recyclable materials, along with informational presentations on recycling, Williams said.
"I'm proud of the effort our students have made," Williams said.