West Hardin Middle School, located in Stephensburg, jumped on board with the program in 2007, the first year the Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools was launched. Between 2007 and 2009 West Hardin Middle School has excelled in environmental achievements.
In 2009, West Hardin MS was only the third school in the Commonwealth to complete all nine categories in the KGHS program. West Hardin’s Green Club also won the state junior level National Energy Education Development Youth Awards in 2009. Nine students were able to attend the National Conference in Washington D.C. the summer of 2009.
Students completed several activities focused on helping their school become more “green.” First, students monitored buses to see how many, and how long, buses idled before school was dismissed in the afternoons. Some buses idled for twenty minutes each day even when the weather was warm. In two years, the Green Club decreased buses idling by 34%, reducing air pollution and saving money in fuel costs.
Next, the Green Club promoted recycling and energy savings by creating a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to spread the word about recycling. The club placed in the top ten in the state in the First Kentucky Green Team Film Festival. In addition to the PSA, local government grants were awarded that allowed students to have a recycling trailer located across from the school. The trailer accepts plastics, cans, newspapers, and cardboard.
Students also attended the 38th annual Farm-City Day and educated community members on the savings and benefits of using compact florescent light bulbs (CFL). Nolin RECC, the local electric co-op, donated CFL's that students gave away to individuals who pledged to change one light bulb in their home or office. The pledges were entered into the National Change a Light, Change the World campaign.
Finally, the Green Club converted an unused three-acre plot on the school property back into a native prairie. The Green Club was able to complete this project as a collaborative effort with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, and donations from several local businesses. This will bring native species of grasses, wildflowers, and hardwood trees back to the area, and would not require the usual mowing, thus saving money and decreasing our carbon footprint.
West Hardin MS continues work in the KGHS program as a Model KGHS school. Students on the Green Club team continue to seek ways to make environmentally friendly and sustainable improvements around their school and community.