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Recent Winners

Sumter Career and Technology Center, Sumter County
Operation Recycle Greenhouse

Sumter Career and Technology Center was named the top 2014-2015 Champion of the Environment for their Operation Recycle Greenhouse project. Students will learn the importance of waste reduction by starting a school wide recycle and compost program. The recycling program will start with paper and plastic bottles. Students will also learn the importance of water conservation by maintaining a rainwater harvesting system for their solar powered greenhouse. Masonry and Mechatronics students will install compost tumblers and construct the foundation for the garden. Culinary Arts students will manage the compost, greenhouse and recycling programs and grow herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Early Childhood Education students will create lessons for a younger audience that explains the importance of compost, recycling and harvesting rainwater.

The students will host tours of the school and give lessons in recycling, composting, water harvesting and healthy eating. They will also reach out to local assisted living communities to donate herbs, vegetables and flowers grown in the greenhouse.

Leaphart Elementary School, Lexington/Richland Counties
Kinley Creek Watershed Management Plan

Students will take part in the development of a Watershed Based Plan for the Kinley Creek Watershed. First, an existing conditions inventory will be performed to study the natural history of the watershed, and maps will be created to illustrate land use, land cover, flood plain boundaries, stream networks and stormwater infrastructure. Next, students will implement stormwater management practices such as harvesting rainwater, creating rain gardens, and conducting public awareness campaigns. Finally, students will design and develop interpretive materials for placement at Seven Oaks Park and Leaphart Elementary School.

Leaphart Elementary School, an engineering magnet school, will partner with the Central Midlands Council of Governments, Irmo Chapin Recreation Commission, and Lexington and Richland Countywide Stormwater Consortiums. This partnership will enhance Leaphart's engineering based curriculum by giving students the chance to work on a real world civil and environmental engineering project alongside environmental professionals.

Ebinport Elementary School, York County
Ebinport Classroom Garden

Ebinport Elementary will enhance their existing Classroom Garden through increased composting effectiveness, organic protection from pests and frost, space utilization with vertical gardening, and indoor seedling growth. Students will make organic pest sprays from garden resources, release earthworms to improve soil aeration, and taste home grown food. All students at the school will go to the garden for lessons, plantings, and work tied directly to the classroom curriculum, and they will expand upon garden skills learned from previous year's lessons.

Ebinport Classroom Garden is a resource used by the whole community. Local business partners, Master Gardeners, parents/grandparents, and community volunteers help with donations of time, money and supplies. The garden is also used by Winthrop University instructors to educate their Early Childhood Education students and garden clubs hold meetings and tours in the garden.

Whittemore Park Middle School, Horry County
Pick It Up

The Pick It Up Campaign idea comes directly from Whittemore Park Middle School students wanting to promote a litter-free environment in which to live and learn. 6th, 7th, and 8th graders will pick up litter on and off campus, wearing safety vests and accompanied by School Resource Officers. Students will also develop Public Service Announcements (PSAs) that will serve as an educational tool to outline the importance and benefits of a clean campus and adjacent neighborhood spaces. The PSAs will be shown at assembly to all Whittemore Park students, distributed to local TV stations, and posted to social media sites for additional exposure. Finally, students and teachers will participate in the Great American Cleanup and advertise a scheduled event day for the community to join.

Whittemore Park celebrates students making a difference through ROAR--Respect, Organization, Achievement, and Responsibility. This student-driven project is an opportunity to exercise their ROAR power and establish a shared responsibility to improve the environment.

Southside Middle School, Florence County
Southside Middle School Recycling

Students at Southside Middle School currently run a paper and cardboard recycling program. With their Champions of the Environment Grant they will expand the program to include plastic and aluminum products. Students will pick up recycling each week from individual classrooms, weigh the amount collected, chart the data together, and analyze the impact of their initiative. They will also create PSAs to encourage students and staff to recycle, and they will write a series of persuasive documents to the school board to advocate for funding allocation.

In addition to educating students on the fiscal, environmental and health benefits of recycling, Southside Middle School also hopes to educate others by inviting community members to drop off their household plastic and aluminum products at the school.

Charles Towne Montessori, Charleston County
Charles Towne Montessori Water Management and Habitat Enhancement

Science Club members at Charles Towne Montessori will learn how low impact development features, such as rain gardens and rainwater harvesting, can help reduce nonpoint source pollution, provide flood control management and increase habitat for native plants and insects. Students will first conduct a stormwater audit on campus to identify erosion patterns and poor drainage areas, as well as determine suitable locations for managing stormwater. They will then connect with members of the Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium to conduct soil tests, purchase rain barrels, and access native plants. The Science Club will also create promotional materials to educate younger students about the function and benefits of stormwater control features.

Students will tap resources such as Master Gardeners, the Native Plant Society, the Horticultural Society, and the Department of Natural Resources to assist in various stages of the project.

Orchard Park Elementary School, York County
Watch Our Garden Grow

Orchard Park Elementary School students will revitalize an existing space with the creation of a Xeriscape garden, which encourages water conservation and reduces energy costs. Students will perform pre-assessment studies of soil, plants, and amounts of sunlight and rainfall to serve as a baseline for assessing growth and habitat vitality. In the spring, students, parents and community members will prepare the soil and plant native plants. The students will then compare the differences between the baseline habitat and the new one using the Schoolyard Habitat checklist. When they have confirmed that the new garden includes the characteristics of a healthy habitat, including food, cover, water, and places to raise young, then the garden can be certified as a Schoolyard Habitat. Finally, the Environmental Club will host clean-up days and a "Green Fair" to maintain the garden and educate others on how to implement some of the same environmental practices.

Orchard Park Elementary was chosen by DHEC this year to pilot a composting program. DHEC will provide the school with a composting bin and the compost generated will be used in the garden. Orchard Park will also partner with the York County Soil and Water Conservation District and a local landscaping company for additional guidance and assistance.

St. John Neumann School, Richland County
Monarch Butterfly Waystation / Pollinator Garden

St. John Neumann School plans to follow in the footsteps of the White House Garden and add a pollination section to an existing garden to combat the decline of pollinator populations such as butterflies and bees. By adding various Milkweed plants and tracking the progress of Monarchs on their way to breeding grounds in Mexico, the students will work to certify the garden as a National Butterfly Waystation. Planting will be done by the Eco Friendly Eagles Club, then each grade level in the Science Lab program will be responsible for daily garden maintenance. The Eco Friendly Eagles will also fill out the paperwork to apply for the butterfly waystation certification.

The school will partner with local Boy Scout and Eagle Scout troops, as well as parent volunteers and the Parish community, to help maintain a healthy ecosystem for years to come.

2013-2014 Champions of the Environment

For additional information, please contact Amanda Ley at leyah@dhec.sc.gov or call (803) 898-4183.

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