BURLINGTON -- Students in middle and high schools in the Lamoille Regional Solid Waste Management District (LRSWMD) will have the opportunity to take part in an in-school project on waste management to help schools comply with Vermont's Universal Recycling law.

University of Vermont (UVM) Extension 4-H, in partnership with the LRSWMD, has been awarded a $41,055 one-year grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, which will help students take leadership roles in reducing waste generated at their schools. The project is part of UVM Extension's TRY (Teens Reaching Youth) for the Environment program.

TRY engages students in real-world problem solving as they help their school and community become more environmentally sustainable, according to UVM Extension 4-H Teen and Leadership Program coordinator Lauren Traister. Students also develop critical leadership and life skills, such as decision-making, problem-solving, critical thinking, communication and teamwork, which will benefit them as they transition to college and career.

Eligible schools include Bishop John A. Marshall School (grades 6-8), Peoples Academy Middle School and Peoples Academy High School, Morrisville; Green Mountain Technology and Career Center, Lamoille Union Middle School and Lamoille Union High School, Hyde Park; Stowe Middle School and Stowe High School, Stowe; and Craftsbury Academy Middle School and High School, Craftsbury Common.

Each school is asked to put together a team of 5 to 10 motivated, innovative students and an adult advisor. Team rosters must be submitted by Nov. 1 at www.uvm.edu/extension/teenleadership. Anyone requiring a disability-related accommodation to participate should contact Lauren Traister at (866) 260-5603, ext. 402, by this same date.

All TRY teams will be required to attend a free one-day, hands-on training to learn about this project, including why waste management is important to the planet's future, how to conduct a waste audit and how to create a successful action plan. TRY teams also will attend a field trip to a materials recycling facility and a composting site in March.

Teams will conduct two waste audits during the second-half of the school year, one to help design a workable waste management action plan, the second to measure success after implementation. The State Farm grant allows each team a budget of $750 for implementation of the plan. Schools whose action plans "Save Money And Reduce Trash" will compete for the TRY SMART Award. This award will be presented to the school whose plan best reduces waste, encourages recycling and reuse and helps the school meet the requirements of the Universal Recycling law. Members of the winning team will receive prizes.

"We are incredibly excited about this opportunity to partner with UVM Extension 4-H on this important project," says LRSWMD District Manager Susan Alexander. "Act 148 was passed in May 2012 as an unfunded mandate, and the State Farm grant helps support the work outlined in the Universal Recycling law. As Vermonters, we all have to comply with this bold, precedent-setting legislation and there is no better place to start than with our schools, the future leaders of our communities."

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