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Horizon Eco-Kids receive Green U grant

Beth Bero and her ecologically-minded students at Horizon Elementary School were awarded a 2012 Green School Challenge grant.

Grant recipients were announced at the Green U Festival on Aug. 25 at Huntsville Botanical Garden. The festival featured guest speakers, business promotions of ‘green’ products, workshops and hands-on demonstrations.

“Horizon has an active and varied (ecology) program that includes recycling, tree planting, school-wide cleanup days, gardening, outdoor classroom use and students teaching students,” Bero said. “We applied because our program was a good fit for the grant.”

“We’re thrilled and honored to be chosen to receive this grant and appreciate their investment in education and the community,” Bero said. The $1,000 grant is earmarked for Horizon’s future community garden, as proposed by the Eco-Kids to principal Rodney Richardson

For the garden, the grant will help to create a water source for raised beds in which residents can grow and harvest their own crops. Lee McBride, CASA volunteers and Soozi Pline with Huntsville Botanical Garden are assisting in planning.

Eco-Kids realized many families can’t have a home garden because they live in an apartment or have property that is too steep or shaded. “The students asked Mr. Richardson if some of Horizon’s level, open area could be adapted,” Bero said. “And here we are.”

With a waterline in place, the next step will be securing donations of cement blocks. “We’ll have a couple of community workdays to assemble the beds and spread the soil. Spring planting is our target goal at this time,” Bero said.

Each year, Eco-Kids plan lessons for younger students on topics like bats, pet care, endangered species or environmental concerns. Following the school’s focus on leadership, “Eco-Kids are among our school leaders,” Bero said.

In 2010, Horizon Eco-Kids researched animal care and helped pets with Madison Animal Rescue Foundation. In 2011, Eco-Kids planned the Clean Up Madison campaign with the mayor’s office and Madison Chamber of Commerce. “However, that plan morphed into a ‘clean-up Harvest’ event because of the April tornadoes,” Bero said.

Solid Waste Disposal Authority of the City of Huntsville funded the Green U grant.

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