A recycling and trash education program for Honey Creek Middle School students, which was started by Indiana State University industrial technology education students and their professor, has received a Wabash Valley Community Foundation grant and is being expanded to include the other area middle schools.

Project LITTER, now in its second year, stands for Less-Inappropriate-Trash-Through-Education-and-Recycling. ISU students in the project are not only getting local kids excited about reducing the trash that is going to landfills and being dumped on city streets; but showing them ways they can take action, such as the trash pick-up scheduled for this Saturday, according to Cory Goebel, a sophomore technology education major from Evansville.

“If you don’t get students interested in what you’re talking about, they won’t want to do it,” Goebel said. “So to teach them about recycling, the other students and I came up with some hands-on activities.”

During one lesson, the students made bead necklaces using old magazines and string; while another activity involved mapping the recycling locations in the Terre Haute area and identifying which items each site collects.

The four-week class wraps up this week with a school-wide Paper Recycling Drive at Honey Creek from April 23-26. ISU’s Recycling Center is providing bins for the school’s week-long effort.

The grand finale is the ultimate hands-on activity — a trash clean-up day from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday at Fairbanks Park. To put their learning into action, the Honey Creek students in Ken Amos’ industrial technology class who have been participating in Project L.I.T.T.E.R. created Paper Recycling Week awareness posters, and will be picking up trash with their ISU student-mentors on Saturday.

After receiving requests from other middle schools, Davison Mupinga, ISU associate professor of industrial technology education and founder of Project L.I.T.T.E.R., approached the Wabash Valley Community Foundation to ask for help expanding the program.

“The funding from the Community Foundation will allow us to bring the program into the other middle schools and help us purchase enough instructional materials and T-shirts for the students to wear so they stand out while they’re picking up litter,” Mupinga said. “It also will cover any transportation costs, as well as fun incentives like pizza and cookies for the group that recycles the most.”

Project L.I.T.T.E.R. achieves several important goals for his students, Mupinga says.

“Most of the students in my classes are going to be teachers,” he said, “so a project like this gives them experience working with kids on a more informal basis, yet in a school setting. They are learning how to create and implement curriculum that the kids can grasp and also enjoy.”

He hopes that the college students also can serve as positive role models for the youths.

“I want the middle school students to see that older kids care about them, and all the benefits you get by going to college,” Mupinga said.

Contributing to a cleaner and more beautiful Terre Haute is the other goal which Mupinga feels strongly about.

“Some people are just not aware that what they’re doing, in terms of inappropriate trash, is harmful, so we need to spread the word about appropriate ways to deal with trash, and what better way than to educate the youth – our future citizens?” he said.

The event will take place this Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Fairbanks Park.

To find out more about Project L.I.T.T.E.R., visit litter.andyhoffman.org.

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