Union High School

Union High 2021-2022

Project Description: 

Starting in November of 2021, Union High collaborated with WMEAC and Department of Public Works Kent County to host 3 vermicompost workshops for a diverse group of 9th grade students in our Academic Strategies course. Students built several vermicompost bins for the classroom, learned about organic waste diversion from landfills, and created signage to inform and persuade their peers about the bins. Teacher Cory Sutherby, aka “The Sutherbeast” has created a Compost Rap that we plan to incorporate into the educational materials for this program each year. This year, Scholars in the Red Hawk Garden Club and other 9th graders were able to take field trips to Frederick Meijer Gardens, and the South Kent Landfill and the Kent County Recycling Center. Covanta Waste to Energy provided a presentation for our scholars at our school, and WMEAC presented with a Kahoot game. Given the gracious opportunity to expand our project, we decided to connect a project to our Biology curriculum and VR study on Sustainability resulting in the planting of 34 trees which will sequester carbon from the air, reducing the impact of climate change as well as provide fruit to future scholars. With the support of Friends of GRParks, at the end of May we are planting fruiting trees on the school property. We currently have 2 neighborhood community members who are providing their food waste towards our vermicompost and outdoor composting systems which will provide for future nutrient needs in our school garden.

Fostering Lifelong Stewardship:

In addition to field trips to Frederick Meijer Gardens, the Kent County Recycling Center, South Kent Landfill, the tree planting events, and vermicompost workshops, scholars were able to engage in local and global scale Biology lessons related to Sustainability. They are able to fully explain the role of CO2 in climate change, human’s role in producing CO2, and use academic vocabulary when describing how CO2 is stored in the trunk of a tree.


West Michigan Environmental Action Council, Kent County Department of Public Works, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks


Nicole Durso, 9th Grade, Biology; McKenna DeWolf, 9th Grade, Academic Strategies; Emily Padron, 9th Grade, ASD; Christopher Weaver, 9th Grade, Academic Strategies; Kim Miller, 9th Grade, Academic Strategies




The Wege Foundation

Showcase Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7nEf-LqBN4&list=PLV2DqaYFEsPwEUUHkVf4EWeARMMgZa9NL&index=23

Page last modified July 11, 2023