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Group of HMS students recognized for Eco-friendly project

Hutto Middle School is one of the 40,000 middle and high schools across the country participating in the Lexus Eco Challenge, an opportunity for kids in grades 6-12 to tackle environmental issues in their communities.

The team of HMS students recently discovered they were awarded $10,000 in scholarship grant money, and have the opportunity to win an additional $30,000 in the final round of the challenge later this spring.

When the Magnolia STEM Scholars at HMS found out Decatur County had stopped recycling plastic last May, they were determined to do something about it. They wanted to stop the flow of plastic into landfills, waterways, and parks. The team planned a community outreach program to inform the public as well as a system to control the amount of plastic being used and tossed by the student body.

The students designed a website and created an Instagram account to share research and recycling tips and published and distributed flyers throughout the school campus. In addition, the group constructed a DIY vertical garden utilizing discarded plastic bottles, and organized a student-designed shirt fundraiser, where proceeds will be used to purchase new drinking fountains that will allow students and faculty the ability to easily refill reusable drinking bottles.

HMS teacher Tiffany Rambo and her students weren’t chasing the scholarship money when they began this project. They just wanted to help their school and community. Every student agreed that they felt they were making a difference.

“It’s shocking,” said Jada Sanders. “I didn’t realize how much we would get into it until we started doing more and more. I’m glad we are doing more to help out.”

Next, the team of students plan to work with other schools in the area to join the effort for new drinking fountains. They plan to meet with bank officials about potential sponsorships, and talk to the city’s waste management director about transporting plastic to a recycling plant in Tallahassee.

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the Lexus Eco Challenge and more than 40,000 middle and high school students have earned over $7.5 million for themselves, their teachers, and their schools through the Lexus Eco Challenge.