Char-Koosta News

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April 29, 2010

Kicking Horse Job Corps goes green on Earth Day

By Lailani Upham

Giving back: Kicking Horse Job Corps celebrated Earth Day with weeklong activities, which included planting this flowering crab tree last Thursday. Culinary Arts instructor Willie Caye offered thanks and commended the center for giving back to Mother Earth, while Jeff Clairmont's heavy equipment crew maneuvered the tree into place. Former educator and Dixon Tribal Council Representative Terry Pitts also offered words of encouragement to the center staff and students. (Kim Swaney photo)
Giving back: Kicking Horse Job Corps celebrated Earth Day with weeklong activities, which included planting this flowering crab tree last Thursday. Culinary Arts instructor Willie Caye offered thanks and commended the center for giving back to Mother Earth, while Jeff Clairmont's heavy equipment crew maneuvered the tree into place. Former educator and Dixon Tribal Council Representative Terry Pitts also offered words of encouragement to the center staff and students. (Kim Swaney photo)

PABLO — The Kicking Horse Job Corps Center hosted events for their National Office “Earth Day, Every Day” this past week with several service projects and activities to commemorate the 40th Earth Day anniversary.

During “Earth Day, Every Day,” students and staff members participated in several activities that focused on green living and improving the environment and launched a recycling contest at the Job Corps Center student dormitory.

KHJC showcased career expertise and educated information to students, staff and the community during a “Go Green Fair” on Tuesday, April 20.

The center also had a tree-planting ceremony on Earth Day, April 22. The entire student body was present for the ceremony including CSKT Dixon Representative Terry Pitts to welcome the “flowering crab” tree on campus that is to signify new beginnings, according to Career Technical Training Director, Tom Patch. The actual tree-planting was conducted by the center’s very own heavy equipment program students.

The Job Corps “Earth Day Every Day” initiative is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) and is held by hundreds of center’s across the nation.

Through the funding, the center was able to purchase three electric vehicles. Other energy efficient materials and equipment included insulation, solar hot water panels for the cafeteria and install on-demand hot water heaters for the dormitories and installation of greenhouses and gardens with native plant species.

The center also purchased hundreds of coffee travel mugs for all the students and staff in an effort to eliminate Styrofoam on campus. According to a national study, Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year. “We got rid off all our Styrofoam today,” said Shelly Fyant during the “Go Green Fair.”

The week-long event is designed to teach students and staff members strategies to reduce their impact on the environment at work and at home.

Cynthia Forsch, founder of Eco-Logic Strategies and St. Ignatius resident, encouraged KHJC students that they can make a difference in the environment. Forsch was the driving force in changing mayonnaise jars from glass to plastic in the late 1990's. (Lailani Upham photo)
Cynthia Forsch, founder of Eco-Logic Strategies and St. Ignatius resident, encouraged KHJC students that they can make a difference in the environment. Forsch was the driving force in changing mayonnaise jars from glass to plastic in the late 1990's. (Lailani Upham photo)

During the “Go Green Fair” on Tuesday, KHJC students enthusiastically received the presentation from Cynthia Forsch, a local environmental consultant and founder of Eco-Logic Strategies on one individual making a national change in the environment. Forsch, a former Director of Environmental Affairs for Albertsons, a national grocery chain, formed Eco-Logic Strategies in 2002 after working for the national grocery chain for over a decade. Forsch assists companies with development of an environmental strategy based on the principles of sustainability that includes sound economic viability.

Forsch shared with the students that while working with Albertson’s she asked the chain what the purpose was for using glass jars instead of plastic for the mayonnaise. The stores reply was, “It’s always been that way.” Forsch told the students, “It’s a red flag when you get an answer like that.” Forsch challenged the store in a positive way to change the jars. Her plea was that the jars would not be prone to breakage and losing product and that the plastic containers were cheaper to manufacture. Albertson’s became the first brand to place plastic mayonnaise jars on the shelf and now almost all brands and stores have plastic jars.

A modern glass bottle would take 4000 years or more to decompose -- and even longer if it’s in the landfill, according a national recycling study complied from the National Recycling Coalition, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Earth911.org.

An impromptu question came from a student in the bleacher’s asking Forsch, “ All that was done by you?” Forsch replied humbly, “Yes.” Then urged the student body to speak up when they see something that is not environmentally sound, “You can make a difference,” she said. Her story earned an enthusiastic cheer from the student body.

Forsch gave the student tidbits on recycling, “Cardboard can be recycled. When you purchase something with a lot of packaging have them open it at the store and keep the package.”

She urged the students to think about one thing, to promise to oneself to look at buying habits and to recycle something with a purchase. “Speak up when you see something that is not right,” she said. Forsch went a step further to challenge the student to change their environmental habits and asked who will make a commitment to change some habits, a third of the hands were raised.

Throughout the fair students did a number of presentations on recycling materials and garden composting. Composting is essentially a way of speeding up the natural process of decomposition by which organic materials are broken down and their components return to the soil. The decaying process happens naturally but slowly.

A student team talked about composting by using left over vegetables as fertilizer for a garden and mentioning that KHJC uses four to five gallons a week for that particular use in their on-campus gardens. Composting can save money that would otherwise be spent on soil conditioners and fertilizer.

Another team of students presented the need for paper and plastic recycling. “What is does recycling mean?” one team member asked the audience, and followed up with an answer on statistics regarding the environment.

Approximately one billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.

According to a national survey on recycling, Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour. Most of them are thrown away. Also there are plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean that kill as many a million sea creatures each year.

Job Corps is committed to ensuring that the principles of Earth Day extend past this year’s Earth Day week-long celebration.

The KHJC staff is committed to teaching Job Corps students to be better environmental stewards in their communities by providing students with green job training opportunities in the years to come.

To learn more about KHJC, call (406) 644-2217 or visit online at www.kickinghorse.jobcorps.gov.

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