Champions of the Environment

Students in North Myrtle Beach will be creating a vertical garden using recycled bottles with the help of a $2,500 grant.

North Myrtle Beach Middle School has been awarded the grant through a program aimed at educating the next generation of environmental stewards. The school is one of several in South Carolina receiving Champions of the Environment grants for this school year, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced.

“The Champions of the Environment program represents an excellent opportunity for schools to inspire environmental stewardship in the youth of our state,” Dr. Mike Marcus, chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Water, said in a statement.

DHEC, Dominion Energy and International Paper sponsor the program, with assistance from the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina.

“Thanks to additional partner funding this year, we’re excited to increase the number of awards presented, as well as the award amount,” Amanda Ley, DHEC’s coordinator for the Champions of the Environment program, said in the release.

Several factors were considered in determining the ideal location for the project, according to DHEC’s website. The spot should have morning sun and be located in an area without high traffic so students aren’t tempted to pull the plants down. Additionally, it should be installed near a building water spigot and gutter to use water as efficiently as possible.

After finding a suitable location, students started to collect two-liter soda bottles, drilling holes in them to use as flowerpots on the green wall. A volunteer from the community will help the students cut timber in order to frame the garden. Rain barrels will be placed in several locations near the garden and compost will be used to enrich the soil. Also, the school community will be asked to donate items to help install the garden and fundraisers will be held to leverage additional money.

Champions of the Environment grants are issued each school year to promote environmental education and action in the state’s K-12 classrooms. Students, teachers and environmental educators apply for the grant funding by outlining their educational project that centers on pollution or waste reduction, water or energy efficiency or preservation of natural areas.

This school year’s other winners are: Bluffton High School; Blythewood High School; James B. Edwards Elementary School/Mount Pleasant Academy; Windsor Elementary School; Henry L. Sneed Middle School; Polo Road Elementary School; Walhalla High School; Emerald High School; Dent Middle School.

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