Bird mansions that attract mosquito-eating birds like Swifts and Swallows. Water bottle refilling stations that discourage use of single-use water bottles. An outdoor classroom that allows children to learn in the fresh air. These were some of the environmental donations that Reed-Custer teachers and students received through Exelon's Gabby Green program in 2018.
The Gabby Green program sponsored by Braidwood Station urges local schools to submit ideas for projects that can benefit the environment. Employees at Braidwood Station review the proposals and provide financial grants for the best ones submitted.
Joanne Leveille (pictured front left) and members of Reed-Custer High School’s Recycling Club stand in front of one of the water bottle refilling stations at the high school and hold some of the biodegradable straws/bowls they plan to use in the cafeteria.
In 2019 Reed-Custer again took advantage of the Gabby Green program, securing nearly $6,000 in environmental grants.
"We are very happy with the partnership we have with Exelon and Braidwood Station," said Mark Mitchell, Reed-Custer School District Superintendent. "Our students and teachers enjoy finding ways to make our schools more eco-friendly and they learn a lot through the grant process and project implementation."
Pictured (left to right) Danielle Valiente, Reed-Custer’s Director of Teaching and Learning, Christina Xydis from Braidwood Station and Mark Mitchell, Reed-Custer School District Superintendent.
Some of the projects Reed-Custer will complete in 2019 thanks to Exelon’s Gabby Green environmental grants include:
Stopping the Straws: Joanne Leveille and students in Reed-Custer High School's Recycling Club will execute a campaign to reduce the use of plastic straws and foam containers in the cafeteria, products that never degrade and fill up landfills. The Recycling Club will offer biodegradable paper straws and FDA-approved fiber bowls during the year and work to ensure students understand the positive impact these products have on the environment compared to their plastic/foam counterparts.
Going Green With a Greenhouse: The Elementary School will be taking Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) to a new level with construction of a new greenhouse on school property. Students will participate in the gardening process as they grow fruits, vegetables and sprouts. This project will not only allow K-5 students to learn about the life cycle of plants, it will provide a hands-on experience that extends science outside the classroom.
Planting Trees: Julie Nelson's Middle School class will plant 10 to 15 trees around the outfield line of the baseball fields. Beyond the aesthetic benefits, the trees will provide noise and erosion abatement, a batters-eye for the baseball games and additional habitats for the Swifts and Swallows populating the bird mansions (seen below). Students will maintain and fertilize the trees using compost produced from the school cafeteria waste while also charting their growth throughout the year.