PLT GreenSchools Investigations Benefit an Outdoor Education Center

The Civilian Conservation Corps built what is now Camp Waskowitz more than 70 years ago. True to its conservation history, the outdoor education center is also highly relevant today.

Highline School District has sent students to Camp Waskowitz for outdoor education programs since 1947. Since then, more than 200,000 students have participated in environmental education and team-building programs there.  In addition to the 1,200 sixth-graders from the Highline School District who attend programs at Camp Waskowitz each year, some 1,600 5th and 6th graders from neighboring districts also attend week-long environmental education programs at the school. Waskowitz Outdoor School has been a part of the PLT GreenSchools program since 2009.

The school’s Green Team is composed of eight high school students enrolled in the Waskowitz Environmental Leadership Semester (WELS). These students live in the cabins with the younger students, and serve as role models and mentors who lead the investigations. These students also have created environmental skits that they perform for the 6th grade students that feature Captain Planet, Trashbuster, and other environmental superheroes.

Energy Investigation

Because of the historic nature of its buildings, Camp Waskowitz lost energy through the cracks in doors and window frames that didn’t quite close.  After completing the Energy Investigation, the school’s Green Team recommended weatherstripping to cut down on energy loss. “Weatherstripping has allowed us to reduce our electric consumption by 12%,” reported the school’s director, Roberta McFarland.

Waste and Recycling Investigation

After completing the Waste and Recycling Investigation, students recommended composting the school’s food waste and proposed a recycling program to reduce the amount of trash sent to a landfill. Composting the 70 pounds of food waste the school generates every day has reduced Waskowitz’ garbage pick-up schedule from once a week to once every two weeks. A side benefit: composting converts waste and carbon into great garden soil.

The school also uses TerraCycle to recycle other items.  By using this service, which provides waste-collection programs for hard-to-recycle materials and turns them into affordable green products, Waskowitz Outdoor School has reduced its landfill trash by 288 cubic yards, and saved $2,800 per year in fees.


Kathy Westra

Kathy Westra

Kathy Westra is a writer and environmental communications consultant based in Rockland, Maine.

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