FARMINGTON – For giving up recesses to care for the composting efforts of 1,000 plus worms, and share their message of reduce, reuse and recycle with others, third-graders in teacher Alex Ernst’s class were rewarded for their efforts Monday.

During a third-grade assembly and class talent show at the W.G. Mallett School, Ron Slater, manager, and Jo Josephson, president of the Sandy River Recycling Association, presented the class with a plaque commemorating its efforts.

The award from the Maine Resource Recovery Association acknowledged the school as “Composter of the Year for the State of Maine” for efforts to recycle 3.18 tons, or approximately 6,367 pounds, of food waste.

“It may be that peanut butter sandwich or muffin your mother packed for you that you didn’t want but it went into compost that’s used to make more food,” Josephson told the students.

The school had recycled wastepaper for several years but continued to look for ways to minimize the school’s waste. Sandy River Recycling has now been making regular daily food pickups from the school for composting at the recycling facility.

Ernst’s class also took on a second composting project using more than 1,000 worms in plastic tubs in the classroom. Munching on used coffee grounds, leftover apples and snacks, the worms were also given shredded newspaper and water by the students.

Later, with instructional help from University of Maine at Farmington students, the third-graders began helping kindergarten and first-grade students to sort their lunch waste to prepare for composting.

Ernst’s students missed many recesses, Slater said. A short video featuring the students and their efforts to collect and recycle paper, and showing the class on a visit to the recycling center to see their food scraps being added to the compost was shown to parents and other students.

Mallett School Principal Tracy Williams commended the students for explaining composting to other students but encouraged them to continue to ask, “what are we going to do with food waste,” when they get to Cascade Brook School next fall.

Several third-graders then shared their budding talents in song, dance, magic and piano playing for their parents and classmates.


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