Inside the Outdoors secures funding for waste education program impacting more than 900,000 students

Inside the Outdoors, OCDE’s popular environmental education program, has netted a sizable grant to present standards-based lessons on the science of solid waste to nearly a million Orange County students.

At last week’s county Board of Supervisors meeting, OC Waste & Recycling formally presented $946,558 to representatives from the Inside the Outdoors Foundation to support the service-learning program known as Project Zero Waste.

Representatives from Inside the Outdoors and OC Waste & Recycling

Representatives from OCDE, Inside the Outdoors and OC Waste & Recycling attend a recent OC Board of Supervisors meeting. Pictured from left are OCDE Director of Community and Student Support Services Stacy Deeble-Reynolds, Inside the Outdoors Operations Manager Stephanie Smith, Inside the Outdoors Foundation Board President Manny Kiesser, Inside the Outdoors Development Director Lori Kiesser and OC Waste & Recycling Vice Chair Isabel Rios-Kahn.

The funding will pay for field trips, workshops taught by Inside the Outdoors’ team of Traveling Scientists, school gardens and other project-based learning efforts over the next five years, according to Lori Kiesser, development director for Inside the Outdoors. More than 900,000 K-12 students in Orange County are expected to be impacted.

“Inside the Outdoors’ partnership with OC Waste & Recycling allows students to connect classroom lessons to real-life local priorities,” Kiesser said. “When a student experiences science through project-based learning, they are able to make connections with their community.”

Project Zero Waste is a partnership between OC Waste & Recycling and Inside the Outdoors that began in 2009 to teach kids about solid waste — a term that applies to just about any garbage or refuse, including discarded materials and sludge from wastewater treatment plants.

Students receive in-depth lessons in classes or through field trips before designing and implementing their own solid-waste reduction initiatives. In the past these have included recycling campaigns, school gardens and community clean-up events.

Through the end of the last school year, approximately 350,000 students had benefited from the program, and follow-up assessments demonstrated its efficacy in promoting STEM knowledge.

In 2015, Project Zero Waste won the California School Boards Association’s Golden Bell Award, and the following year it earned the prestigious Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Award, or GEELA.

To learn more about Project Zero Waste, watch the video below, or visit the Inside the Outdoors website.