An Inspiring School Success Story: Recycling, Sustainability and Zero Waste!

How wonderful to celebrate with 500 children on a mission to improve the world!   We did that today at Park Forest Elementary School in State College Pennsylvania.

Park Forest Elemimg_6070entary (PFE) is part of the State College Area School District in Central Pennsylvania. I learned of the school’s exemplary outdoor/environmental education efforts six years ago and featured the school in Moving the Classroom Outdoors.

The school is truly a textbook example of a sustainable, building-wide outdoor/environmental education focus. This year PFE was one of the recipients of the prestigious Green Ribbon Schools Award from the U.S. Department of Education. That award was driven by numerous accomplishments, but its “Zero Waste “ initiative has to be one of the most inspiring.

Many schools have the admirable goal of teaching children how to reduce their environmental footprint. Park Forest, however, has enthusiastically moved that goal off the page and into the building, allowing 500 children to put sustainable practices into action as they eat lunch, clean out their desks or even dry their hands.

An outstanding, student narrated and co-designed video is a must see. The award winning video “ PFE- On the Road to Zero Waste” can be seen on YouTube at

If your school is exploring recycling/waste reduction initiatives, be sure to take a look at this inspiring video. There are many ideas here that could be easily adopted by other schools.

Programs like this don’t exist without champions, and Park Forest has dozens of staff members, both teaching and non-teaching employees, who have been the worker bees behind this building wide effort. Behind it all is Principal Donnan Stoicovy. Donnan is one of those wonderful administrators who is always present, but usually not in front. Whenever possible she has students lead presentations and talk about projects. Everyone knows, however, that if support, encouragement, information or just a kind word is needed, she is there. Always positive; always concerned about her students and their world.

By all means contact PFE if you have an interest in zero waste or other recycling and sustainability initiatives. Donnan can be contacted at dms11@scasd.orgimg_6079