LARAMIE, Wyo. (April 22, 2021) – Today, April 22, is Earth Day, and third graders at Spring Creek will be undertaking an environmental and scientific project in the spirit of the day. Ms. Ommen’s class will be picking up trash on the east end of town, and they will record what they find and make a report on the data.

The project started when Cadence, a student in Ommen’s class, noticed a trend on her way to an after-school activity.

“We were driving by Walmart because I was going to LEAP, and I saw the trash on the side of the road,” Cadence said. “I thought something needs to be done, and we could do something about it.”

When she brought the idea to the class, Cadence and her classmates wrote a letter to the Environmental Action Committee (EAC) on the Laramie City Council. The letter earned the students praise from the committee for their initiative, community involvement, and proposed solutions.

“We wrote how important Laramie is to us, and some of our concerns, like that it could break down by the sun and get in our watershed,” said Marshall, one of Cadence’s classmates. “It could also get into the Pilot Hill area. We also put some helpful ways we could stop them, like putting more trash clans closer together, and by putting fences to stop the blowing trash.”

The EAC provided the class with vests, gloves, and bags for the cleanup activity, and asked the students to collect data on what they find while they are picking up the trash. After the data is recorded, the students will report it back to the city council.

“On the data sheet, we’re collecting data about what type of trash it is and where it came from,” said third-grader Liam. “That way, we can put posters up in that area that says ‘No Littering’ because it could blow into Spring Creek.”

Last week, the students did a test run to see how the data collection will go. They crossed the street and did a quick clean up on the banks of Spring Creek.

“We found out that there’s more in the water, and it’s sort of out of reach,” said Emery, a student in Ommen’s class. “That’s the worst place it could get because the animals that are swimming in the water could get stuck or accidentally eat it. And there was trash everywhere.”

The plan now is to use what they learned during the practice run to collect, record, and learn about the trash in the area they are working on today. Once they finish the report, Ommen says the class is hoping to publish the data, possibly in a blog, including the initial letter, and their ideas on how to mitigate litter in the future.

“I’m very proud of my students all the time,” Ommen said. “I’m constantly surprised and reinvigorated by their levity and their zeal for life. They have really good ideas. If I just listen to them and support them, they can do so many inspiring things.”

Some ideas the class already has is to increase the number of trash cans available, put up posters, and build a fence to catch trash and stop it from blowing around town and into rivers and creeks.

“We’re hoping this snowballs into something that is bigger, involves more of the community, and can be replicated,” Ommen said.

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