A waste-reduction partnership between OCDE’s Inside the Outdoors program and OC Waste & Recycling has earned the California School Boards Association’s highly regarded Golden Bell Award.
Project Zero Waste is a service-learning program that has provided hands-on environmental science instruction to more than 325,000 students since its launch in 2009.
Participants first learn the science of solid waste through Inside the Outdoors field trips and in-class lessons taught by Traveling Scientists. Then they apply what they’ve learned to the design and implementation of solid waste reduction campaigns, which have included campuswide recycling efforts, school gardens, community clean-up events and other student-led activities.
“Receiving the Golden Bell Award for Project Zero Waste is an honor,” Lori Kiesser, development director for Inside the Outdoors, told the OCDE Newsroom. “For Inside the Outdoors and OC Waste & Recycling, it validates a successful partnership that continues to change the lives of Orange County students.”
Indeed, the Golden Bell Award is a leading educational honor in California. Now in its 36th year, the accolade goes to programs that highlight best practices in support of effective governance, teaching and student learning.
Project Zero Waste would appear to be a worthy recipient. Assessments of Project Zero Waste students show an average increase in STEM knowledge of 14 percent, and the benefits go even further. Schools engaging in the program have reduced their trash output up to 20,000 pounds annually.
“The lessons learned by students participating in Project Zero Waste extend beyond academics,” said Orange County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Al Mijares. “In applying science lessons to develop solutions to real-world problems, students gain team-building, creativity and leadership skills.”
OCDE also received the Governor’s Award for Environmental and Economic Leadership for the Project Zero Waste program in 2011.