Cultivating a love of composting

A video from The Wild Center about the basics of composting.

Wild Center, AdkAction work to spur a new generation of compost enthusiasts

By Sierra McGivney

The Wild Center and AdkAction have teamed up to get young people excited about composting.

Last two organizations co-hosted a virtual screening of a documentary titled “Kiss the Ground” (now streaming on Netflix). The film was followed by a panel discussion led by students involved in composting at their school or within their community. Also at the event, AdkAction chose one student at random in attendance to receive a scholarship for Kiss the Ground’s soil advocate training course.

The event was focused on reducing food waste, shifting agricultural practices and recognizing student’s composting work. Around 54 people attended, said Jen Kretser, director of climate initiatives at the Wild Center.  

“You never really know who’s going to show up to a virtual event, and we were excited about the turnout and it was an opportunity to highlight the connection that food has to climate solutions,” she said.

The trailer for “Kiss the Ground”

Sharing the benefits of composting

As it turns out, AdkAction and The Wild Center both share mutual interests in composting and compost education.

AdkAction is home to the “Compost for Good initiative, which stemmed from work at North Country School to develop an easy-to-implement community-scale composter. Thanks to grant funds, the program has oversee the creation and installation of three additional community-scale composters at sites around the region. One of those sites is The Wild Center, and the other two are in Lake Placid and Herman-Dekalb Central School in St. Lawrence County.

The Wild Center works with Tupper Lake Central School to collect food scraps for its composter and that work was incorporated into the “Kiss the Ground” program.

“The screening was part of our open house to showcase the composters and so we had students presenting from both Tupper Lake as well as Lake Placid about the work that they’re doing on collecting food scraps and the connection to that to climate change,” said Kretser.

Youth Climate Program

The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program started in 2009 and any student can join. Up until last year, the biggest part of the program was an annual climate summit at the Wild Center.

Instead, the center held a series of programs this past fall called “youth have power.” Students attended online programming with guest speakers and the center held office hours called “unwind climate time” where students could craft and play climate related games. 

“Students are going through a difficult time right now so we’re really trying to support their well-being, and have a safe place for them to come and have shared interests and connect,” said Kretser.

Wild Center composter
The food waste compost unit is installed in a shipping container at The Wild Center. Photo courtesy of Compost for Good/AdkAction

Compost Cafe

Next up in compost education, AdkAction is hosting a series of online workshops called Compost Cafe.

“It’s mostly just broadening an awareness of composting and how it can benefit the earth and your communities,” said Kristina Hartzell, the communications coordinator at AdkAction.

The workshops are free for anyone to attend. The first session was held Jan. 11 and the topic was composting 101. If you are interested in watching the first session, a recording is available here. There will be two more sessions: at 6:30 p.m. tonight and on Feb. 8. Click here for information.

About Sierra McGivney

Sierra McGivney graduated in May 2021 with a degree in journalism and expeditionary studies at SUNY Plattsburgh. She spent the summer of 2020 as an intern for the Adirondack Explorer.

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