UPDATE: Project Learning Tree Develops Solid Waste Branch

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Reading, writing and arithmetic are staples in a child's education. Soon, waste management may be, too.

Project Learning Tree (PLT) has created "Exploring Environmental Issues: Municipal Solid Waste," a curriculum that teaches students about the municipal solid waste stream, source reduction, recycling and economics, composting, waste-to-energy, landfills and waste management strategies and solutions so that they can make informed decisions in their communities.

Geared toward grades 9-12 (it can be adapted for middle school use), the curriculum incorporates science, math, history, language arts and computer science - to make it easy for teachers to integrate the program into their existing lessons - in eight hands-on activities.

Waste management professionals also have opportunities to learn. They can attend workshops and be trained to teach educators the curriculum, according to Sheri Sykes Soyka, associate director for PLT.

"We develop the materials and have partners in every state that serve as state coordinators to train volunteers and resource specialists," Soyka says. "Then, the resource professionals can teach others by holding their own workshops."

Professionals who can't attend a workshop still can help.

Contact your state coordinator and let him or her know what you are a specialist in, Soyka says. "Let the trainer know what resources are available, if you can organize site tours, talk at a workshop or school, etc. We want to involve professionals in the solid waste industry as much as possible."

PLT is an environmental education program of the American Forest Foundation. Approximately 7,000 copies of the waste management curriculum have been distributed since it began in 1997.

For more information or to get involved, contact the American Forest Foundation: 1111 19th Street NW #780; Washington, D.C. 20036. Telephone toll free: (888) 889-4466. A list of state coordinators can be found on PLT's website: www.plt.org