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Dodge Middle School Green Team members Iteri Okikiolu, Allison Kuhlmann, Sarah Nagel and Caitlyn Althoff are pictured in front of a display case they decorated as part of the school's recent Green Week events.

DMS Green Team recently celebrated Green Week

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DMS Green Team recently celebrated Green Week
Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

A few Dodge Middle School students went dumpster diving for a good cause a couple of weeks ago.

Yep, that's right. They went into the school's dumpsters. They dug around. They even made a video about it. That's one of the fun and unique things the DMS Green Team is doing to promote the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" theme around the school.

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The Green Team has been around for a couple of years at Dodge, formed as a group of students helping to teach other students how to develop good, sustainable habits when it comes to the earth and environment.

This year, the school celebrated Green Week the second full week in January. They were ready for the event, too. One of the most noticeable objects of their efforts is a big display in the lobby of the school.

According to Green Team advisor Kjerstin Tharaldson, the Green Team took time on a Saturday to come in and build the display.

Everything in the display has meaning, sixth grade member Caitlyn Althoff said. In one section, there is a globe, signifying the Earth. Around it are spider plant sprouts, planted to signify the importance of the Earth's many natural resources.

Another section holds a long, mobile-like decoration of various juice, soda, and water bottles. Those are items the members found while going through the school's recycling containers, sixth grader Allison Kuhlmann said.

"It shows that you can make a masterpiece out of stuff you don't think of," Althoff added.

There are several sets of recycling facts and tips on how to be earth friendly also posted in the case. Another highlight, which might not seem relevant at all, is a skateboard. That, sixth grade member Sarah Nagel explained, is there just to show kids that people don't always need to rely on a motor to get places -- they can use alternate methods, like a skateboard, to get where they're going, and get a little exercise at the same time.

"It's about getting out and enjoying the outdoors," Nagel said.

Every day of Green Week had a different theme. One day was about fire, another about animals, and so on. Between classes, music was played in the school's hallways to give hints -- the songs had something in common with each day's themes -- so students could guess what that day's theme was. Once they thought they had an answer, they were entered into a drawing. Five $5 Subway gift certificates were given away as part of that activity.

In preparation for Green Week, the DMS Green Team also made a video to show what of the school's lunch waste can be recycled, what can be composted and what should be thrown away.

That's where the dumpster diving comes in.

"They were in the dumpsters and would pop up and tell these little facts," Tharaldson said. "It was kind of a public service about composting. It was very informational."

One such fact, she added, is that since DMS started composting lunch materials two years ago, the school has generated over 10 tons of compost. That makes the members of the Green Team feel like they're getting somewhere.

"They're getting better than they were before (at recycling and composting)," Nagel said. "But once in a while you'll still see someone put something in the wrong bin."

The Green Team meets a couple of times each month. In the spring they will plant seeds to donate to the elementary schools that have gardens to help save those projects some money, and they're also participating in a tree planting event with the city of Farmington in April as part of Arbor Day.

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Michelle Leonard
Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and is the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 
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