News Release

  6500 East Arapahoe Road, Boulder, CO 80301

For Immediate Release

BVSD Communications - 720-561-5825​


Douglass Elementary Students win 2016 Presidential Environmental Youth Award

Food Waste Club project is one of only 15 winners nationwide

BOULDER: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recognizing a group of 12 BVSD students from Douglass Elementary School as winners of the 2016 Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). The PEYA program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth.

The students who participated in the Food Waste Club that won the award are Jahnavi Berry, Jaya Berry, Emerson Costello, Hayden Costello, Jace Miller, Annalise Myatt, Maddy Romine, Brenna Rush, Karly Rush, JJ Schubert, Samantha Schubert, and Brynn Smith. Douglass fourth-grade teacher Linda Taht and parent volunteer Wendy Cheung provided leadership and facilitated the club's work.

"I am proud of the efforts of our students, teachers and parents,” said Douglass Principal Jonathan Wolfer. “As a Green Star School, we've worked to reduce waste throughout our classrooms and our lunchroom. This award is a tribute to the students’ passion and commitment to reducing our impact on the environment. Congratulations!"

The project measured the amount of food waste that students in the school’s lunchroom produced, then that data was communicated to families and to classrooms to increase their awareness of the issue and to encourage them to "take what they want and eat what they take." Food waste is an environmental problem because food that is thrown away takes up space in landfills. It also wastes resources that are used to produce the food such as water, electricity, plastics, and paper.

To help tackle the problem at their school, students in the Douglass Food Waste Club:
  • Met monthly
  • Weighed compost, recycling and trash for each grade on several days
  • Compared waste weight to school lunch counts
  • Communicated to the student body about waste reduction
  • Developed targeted messaging related to Earth Day that included playground activities and in-cafeteria presence
  • Made a video about food waste (click here)
  • Designed food waste posters which now hang in all BVSD elementary and K-8 cafeterias (see below)
  • Created slogans for food waste wristbands for possible use by Food Services next year
Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations. These students demonstrate the initiative, creativity, and applied problem-solving skills needed to tackle environmental problems and find sustainable solutions.

Douglass Elementary’s food waste club is among 15 projects this are being recognized this year, from 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

“We are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills.”

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit:

Following is an excerpt from the EPA’s website:

EPA Region 8
Food Waste Awareness at Douglass Elementary
Team - The Food Waste Club

A group of 1st through 5th graders at Douglass Elementary, called the “Food Waste Club,” took action to educate their fellow students about food waste and help reduce waste at their school in Colorado.
To begin, the Food Waste Club sent out a survey to other students at Douglass Elementary to gauge which foods students did or did not like, as well as their thoughts on portion size, hot versus cold lunches, how hungry they were at lunchtime, and noise level in the cafeteria. The team then conducted a waste audit, weighing food from the cafeteria to see how much food their school was wasting and discovered that many students were throwing away untouched fruits and vegetables. In response, the Food Waste Club created an “untouched food bin,” where students place fruits and vegetables they haven’t eaten to be washed and used in future lunches. To promote food waste awareness, members of the Food Waste Club prepared a video about food waste and being proactive in the lunch room, which was shared with other classes and put on the Douglass Elementary website.

Most recently, the Food Waste Club has been involved in the larger community, participating in a food reclamation campaign called Feeding the 5,000 Front Range. The group also presented their project the director of food services in the Boulder Valley School District, who asked the club to design food waste posters to be put up in all elementary schools in the district.

Posters created by the Douglass Elementary School Food Waste Club:

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