Pursuing his passion for a litter-free Shoals, Steve Trash put into motion five years ago his vision for clean school campuses with an emphasis on recycling.
The result was the annual Steve Trash Litter Prevention Program.
Starting with elementary-aged students, Trash, aka Steve Richerson, knew a litter prevention challenge would be a good way to inspire young students to be conscious of the environment, while they, in turn, would challenge the adults in their lives.
Trash is renowned for his environmental programs and green magic performances.
“My experiences have always been that if you teach good litter prevention, the message trickles right on up to the grown-ups,” Trash said. “We start with littering because it shows pride of place and children see that, no, it isn’t OK to litter in any situation.”
The annual program that boasts Trash’s name is hosted by the Shoals Chamber of Commerce and its Keep the Shoals Beautiful committee. Throughout the school year, all Colbert and Lauderdale kindergarten sixth-grade schools are monitored for cleanliness and recycling efforts. Each spring a Litter Prevention Champion is named.
“The program begins in the fall and we (discreetly) monitor the schools each month,” Keep the Shoals Beautiful Director Judy Keenum said.
“The program is about teaching the children responsibility for the environment and for keeping their campuses clean and neat. The primary purpose is to teach these young students to take pride in their school and to have a clean, litter-free campus.”
This year’s winner is Hibbett Middle School in Florence. Trash presented the school with a six-foot engraved traveling trophy that will be displayed in the school for a year. The school also won a $150 cash prize and a plaque.
“Interest in the program has really grown as schools all over the Shoals are competing for this trophy now,” Trash said.
According to Hibbett School Principal Tracy Brown, the school has been actively recycling for several years. In addition to those efforts, the outside of the school has been refurbished with updated shrubbery.
“The students have taken a lot of pride in the outdoor area of our school,” she said. “Keeping it neat and clean has been important because it is a source of pride with the students.
“We really instill in the children that if you drop something, you pick it up,” Brown said. “As a result, they’re really invested in the appearance of the campus. Our custodians do a wonderful job in helping us maintain nice curb appeal also. It’s really a campus-wide effort. Everyone’s involved.”
The second place winner was Legacy Christian School in Killen, taking a $100 cash prize. St Joseph Catholic School in Florence won third place and a $50 cash prize.