Erin Jackson is a Service Member in Bozeman.
“Do you or any of the teachers have compost today?” I am greeted with this question every day between 12:02 and 12:07 pm. Who is going out of their way to collect my food scraps, you might be wondering? The “Compost Crew” team leaders of Hyalite Elementary! These self-appointed compost crew third graders visit me on a daily basis with a plastic bucket usually full of fruit and vegetable scraps from the cafeteria, in search of other compostable items.
Hyalite’s compost bin, made out of wooden pallets, was a new addition to the school gardens a few weeks ago. Not only will the compost serve as an educational resource come springtime when we resume our outdoor gardening; it is also a way to keep students involved in garden activities all winter long. The best part is, I have a group of dedicated and excited students who are taking charge!
One of my biggest concerns about my position at Hyalite is the issue of sustainability. What will happen once I am gone? Fortunately, my newly formed “Compost Crew,” made up of third graders who enjoy dedicating their recess to mixing up a pile of rotting food instead of playing on the playground, gives me optimism for creating a permanent, student-directed, composting program. My vision is to delegate composting tasks to the third graders and integrate it into the curriculum, just as fifth graders are in charge of sorting our school’s recycling. This would ensure that all students are educated about the benefits of composting during their time at Hyalite. Furthermore, this task would not be placed on our already hardworking teachers.
According to one member of the Compost Crew, the establishment of the Hyalite compost is only the beginning. “We can send home letters to tell all of the students to compost, and then they will tell all of their family and friends to compost, and then we can get the whole world to compost!” Perhaps I was overly optimistic in thinking our new compost bin was such a huge success; it looks like we have a lot of work ahead of us!