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New Green Team is starting to make a difference at Dodge Middle School

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education Farmington, 55024

Farmington Minnesota P.O. Box 192 / 312 Oak St. 55024

Students at Dodge Middle School are learning important lessons these days. If they want to live in a healthy world, they have to make it happen.

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DMS is just one of the schools around School District 192 that is implementing some kind of environmental education program. It falls under the Schools in Energy Efficiency initiative the district participates in, said DMS Green Team advisor Sara Drazkowski.

The DMS program focuses on things students can to do to better their earth both inside and outside of the building. The group of about 25 students meets Thursday mornings. Sometimes they have meetings. Other times they are actually out doing one of their projects.

Every week, the students go around to all of the classrooms and collect the recycling items that have been turned in over the previous week. It's a simple task, but it's still one that gets everyone thinking about recycling, Drazkowski said.

"We're trying to get them to understand we need to try to be good stewards and set an example for others," she said.

But the group is also trying to share simple messages of energy efficiency around the building on a day-to-day basis. They look out for the little they can do in classrooms - like turning off the lights when the rooms aren't in use - and post little notes to gently remind others to think about what they can do to help the cause.

During the fall, the group went outdoors on several occasions to collect trash that had fallen around the building and on the trails nearby. In the spring, they're talking about doing a larger version of that project, by cleaning a trail from DMS to the high school. It's a big task, Drazkowski said, but the kids seem to be ready to take the challenge.

The group is also looking for a spot in town that needs to have some new trees planted, she said.

In the winter months, though, they're focusing on things they can do within the building. Earlier this month, the Green Team started its Green Sneakers shoe collection drive. The Green Sneakers program collects shoes, then resells the old shoes at very low cost in Third World countries. The school gets 50 cents for every pound of shoes turned in.

"There's always something going on," Drazkowski said. "(Green Team) is kind of dual purpose, with energy efficiency and recycling. They kind of go hand in hand. I told them, if they want clean air it's up to them. It's their future and they're responsible for it."

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