A fun approach to environmental issues earned Alki Middle School Building Operator Steve Horton the inaugural Clark County Green Apple Award in late March 2017. Under his leadership, the school’s Environmental Club has directed a drastic reduction in waste over the past 12 years. Where the school previously filled six large dumpsters per day, now it fills just one large dumpster daily; everything else is recycled or composted. Events such as lunchtime karaoke and an upcoming classroom pledge encourage participation in the effort.

But recycling and composting aren’t the only areas of focus for a club that Horton says is driven by students’ desire to serve their school community. The club, which ranges from 10 to 20 students in sixth through eighth grades, also pulls weeds, picks up trash on school grounds and along Whipple Creek, delivers morning announcements and creates informational videos for their peers. Horton devised a solar cart that powers a PA system for outside events and is used by Alki’s musical groups in the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands. In the future, he’d like to provide opportunities for students do even more, such as make recycled art.

It’s the students for whom this father of four continues the Environmental Club year after year. They inspire him, he says. “It’s always a diverse group. I love it.”