By Meghan Keneally
MANHATTAN — Manhattan public school students can help make the world a greener place, starting in their own school cafeteria.
DNAinfo has partnered up with GrowNYC to give away a six-part Recycling Champions education series to train students and teachers how to recycle better. The winning school will receive a program that includes workshops and instruction from an environmental expert on how to create their own recycling programs and be more eco-friendly.
"The benefit of this is what it brings to students and [the school's] community by becoming responsible citizens and learning how they can do better for their community and their planet," said Robbie Lock, GrowNYC's recycling coordinator.
"Every school is different, and we've done different things at different schools," Lock said, including training custodial staff and improving cafeteria recycling. "They've all reached those kinds of goals differently, but they've all exemplified that recycling is a community effort."
Anyone can vote up till June 30 for their favorite K-12 public school to be a candidate for the recycling program. The school with the most votes wins. The winning school will start their sessions in the fall.
GrowNYC, a nonprofit environmental group partly funded by the mayor's office and the City Council,is known for establishing the Greenmarket farmers markets throughout the city. The Recycling Champions program launched in 2010, and worked with 17 public schools across the five boroughs.
One of the schools was I.S. 52 in Inwood.
"Our recycling program is much better because of the support," said Pam Scott, an eighth grade English teacher and the sustainability director at the school. "Also, when a person from the mayor’s office comes in and says that you’ve got to recycle, there’s a lot better compliance. It certainly adds a lot of weight to the message."
Scott also said that the organization and structure that the GrowNYC program — called Recycling Champions — provides helped to change the attitudes of both children and adults alike by instituting professional development programs for teachers and custodial staff.
While Lock still works with I.S. 52 and other schools on an informal basis, he is in the process of picking next year's participants.
"We're going a mile deep with these schools but we’re also trying to go mile wide by getting schools across the city," Lock said.
Enter your school now through June 30th, 2011 for a chance to win. For more information and to enter your school, click here.