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Students learn value of composting

Students in Laura Kiesler's kindergarten classroom at North Hudson Elementary are shown sorting out composting from the worms. Among the participants were, from left, Izzy Bakken, Ava Schoenrock, Tristan Maloney, Graham Close and Owen Havens. Submitted photo1 / 3
North Hudson Elementary students are shown separating out the rich black compost. Among the participants were, from left, Max Helm, Alex Halama, Gannon Blaiser and Felicity Gross. Submitted photo2 / 3
Students made poster collages with St. Croix County Recycling Specialist Jennifer Havens. These posters highlighted various foods that worms eat and foods the worms do not eat. Students also colored pictures and labels of the body parts of the worm. Among the participants were, from left, Havens, Seth Beaver, Tristan Maloney, Owen Havens and Bella Perkins. Submitted photo3 / 3

In a joint effort between the Hudson School District, the St. Croix County recycling program and the Hudson R-3 committee, students across Hudson and St. Croix County learned the value of composting using red wiggler worms.

In October, eight classrooms in Hudson and one classroom in the St. Croix Central school district each added 1,000 red wiggler composting worms to their classroom to teach students about composting and taking care of the earth. Each classroom set up a bin with items the students brought in from home. Items included sand, black dirt, leaves, apples and peat moss.

Since October, the students have been feeding the worms leftover food items from their school's lunch and from their snacks. They have fed the worms apples, carrots, lettuces, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower and other food items that would have been thrown away otherwise.

Students, parents and teachers watched the bins change from a mix of identifiable organic items such as leaves and peat moss and plant waste into dark, rich and healthy compost that they used for plants and rain gardens at their schools.

Jennifer Havens, St. Croix County recycling specialist, taught teachers how to care for the bins and met with students throughout the districts assisting the teachers as needed. Students learned what worms can and cannot eat, the biology of a worm, including the internal and external anatomy, and how worms and compost help plants grow.

In August, additional teachers will be trained in worm composting, teachers who participated this past school year will act as mentors to teachers who choose to compost during the 2012-2013 school year.

The composting bins were paid for in part by fundraising efforts of Hudson school district's R-3 committee. The committee is headed by Houlton elementary Principal Ann Mitchell. Classroom's across the district that participated were: Lisa Persinger's kindergarten classroom at Houlton Elementary; Laura Kiesler's kindergarten classroom at North Hudson; Judy Meinke's classroom at Willow River Elementary;, Caroline Wolf, Patrice Denning, and Caitlin Barnier's classrooms at River Crest Elementary; Susan Johnson and Tayna Orosz's classrooms at Hudson Prairie Elementary; and Amy Ruud at St. Croix Central in Roberts. A bin was also placed in the Hudson High school as part of the program's activities.