Upstate Schools Receive Clean Air Upstate Sustainable School Grant

    Hunt Meadows Elementary School and Pickens Middle School have been selected as the first recipients of a Clean Air Upstate Sustainable Schools Grant. Each school will receive a $1,000 grant through the Clean Air Upstate initiative, which is being coordinated by Ten at the Top. Funding for the grants was provided as part of a grant from Duke Energy to the Clean Air Upstate effort.

    These two schools were awarded grants as part of a competitive process amongst schools from across the Upstate that have previously demonstrated a commitment to supporting a sustainable environment by participating in the Breathe Better (B2) anti-idling program. The B2 program is an anti-idling/clean air campaign sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) which educates about the harmful effects of vehicle idling and encourages developing anti-idling zones to reduce toxic emissions around schools.

    Hunt Meadows Elementary School, located in Anderson County, will use their grant to start a composting program using worm bins. As part of the project, each grade level within the school will have its own worm bin for composting food waste. This project will involve students of all age levels, and the composted soil produced from the bins will be used for the school flower garden and ecobottles, along with other school projects.

    Pickens Middle School will use their grant to create sustainable ozone bio-indicator gardens and to establish a Conservation Gallery. The ozone bio-indicator gardens will feature ozone sensitive native plants in raised beds, to be monitored by students, while the Conservation Gallery will educate visitors about the three main areas on our Earth that need protecting: Air, water and land. The projects will include students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, with each grade level responsible for a particular aspect of the project.

    Through such initiatives, Hunt Meadows Elementary and Pickens Middle School are doing their part to promote sustainability education within Upstate schools, thus promoting a culture that values living and growing in a sustainable manner. Additional grants will be awarded during the 2014-2015 school year to other Upstate schools.

    Clean Air Upstate is an initiative developed by the Upstate Air Quality Advisory Committee to promote the importance that having clean air can play for both the physical health and economic vitality of Upstate residents. The effort includes a combination of specific on-the-ground emission reduction programs and an awareness & education campaign that highlights ways Upstate residents can help reduce emission levels in the region, thus helping ensure that the Upstate remains within compliance with EPA Clean Air Act standards.