“I am inspired by the teachers who work with the 5,000 students who annually tour the landfill. They are on the front lines of environmental education, and it’s important that SWACO partners with them,” said Kristi Higginbotham, SWACO’s Outreach and Programs Manager. “It’s about informing the students, and these teachers make that happen.”

Keira Boynton is one of those teachers. Thanks to Miss Boynton’s Earth Patrol Club—created to encourage students to be more environmentally conscious—Ohio Avenue Elementary School won SWACO’s Emerald Award last year. “I started the club because, as a teacher, it’s my job to encourage change within the kids. Every year, I try to do something different to challenge myself.” Miss Boynton’s passion fits well with SWACO’s mission of reducing reliance on landfills.

SWACO works closely with central Ohio teachers through its environmental education programs. In addition, SWACO has offered free recycling to Columbus City Schools since 2007. “Recycling gives kids a sense of ownership in the world,” Miss Boynton explained. “I love to teach. When you think about some of the bad things kids see, things can look really bleak. By helping save the earth, the children can feel a part of something bigger. They feel like they have a voice because they are changing the things around them. I love when they come back to me and say that their families are now recycling.”