Second-graders from Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, make an annual trip to the Coon Rapids Recycling Center and the Coon Rapids City Garage.
The recycling center, which is located at the city garage on 111th Avenue, is within walking distance of the school.
This has been an Earth Day tradition for several years, according to Karen Alexander, a second-grade teacher at Hamilton.
Colleen Sinclair, city recycling coordinator, talks to students about the importance of recycling and shows student how easily it can be done in their own neighborhood, Alexander.
In addition to taking the students on a tour of the recycling center, Sinclair also shows the children a video about recycling options.
On the tour, Sinclair pointed out to students a collection area for Styrofoam. “We are the only place that collects Styrofoam for recycling,” she said.
All the recycled materials are sorted at the center so they can be sold to bring in revenue, Sinclair said.
For example, recycled egg cartons are sold to a farmer who sells eggs at a farmers market, she said.
And in response to a question from a student who had spotted where used oil is dropped off for recycling, Sinclair said the center takes in some 1,000 gallons every two weeks, all of which is clean-up and reused.
Another student spotted several bicycles at the recycling center.
They are sold to an organization that recycles bikes – some 800 bikes a year go through the Coon Rapids Recycling Center, according to Sinclair.
The recycling center is open Wednesdays and Saturdays.
“We get 200 visitors every time we are open,” Sinclair said.
In addition, there are special days set aside on some Saturdays for appliance, electronics and mattress recycling, as well as paper shredding, she said.
For the hour-long visit to the city garage and recycling center, the second-graders were split into two groups, with one learning about recycling from Sinclair and touring the recycling center and the other taking a tour of the public works garage with Coon Rapids Recreation Coordinator Ryan Gunderson.
“They show off the city’s big equipment and the kids love it,” Alexander said.
After 30 minutes, the groups flip-flop.
While operated by the city, the recycling center is funded by state dollars through the State’s Select Committee on Recycling and Environment (SCORE).
“Our focus is on residential recycling and our programs are set up to help residents in every aspect of recycling and waste reduction,” Sinclair said.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org