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Students “talk trash” for benefit of County

June 9, 2015. Bastrop County, TX. With help from a grant from the Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), Bastrop County has unveiled two new Public Service Announcements (PSAs) created by Smithville Independent School District (SISD) students and a new magnet developed by Elgin Independent School District (EISD) students.

County Judge Paul Pape was pleased with these efforts to inform citizens in Bastrop County about the proper way to dispose of Household Hazardous Waste, e-Waste, recyclable materials, and other kinds of trash. “Bastrop County benefits greatly from the Solid Waste program funded through the Capital Area Council of Governments and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.” Pape said. “Our students have stepped up to the challenge of creatively educating citizens in ways to keep Bastrop County clean and beautiful. We are grateful to CAPCOG and TCEQ for their continued support of the environment in Bastrop County.”

The two PSAs come from the imaginations of third-grader Evyan Parnell and eighth-grader Randi Hill. They help bring awareness about illegal dumping of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) and about proper disposal of e-Waste.

These two students were chosen from among over 100 participating SISD students in a Poster Contest, conducted through the ACE After School program, and a campus-wide Essay Contest. While the Essay Contest was open to all students at the Smithville Elementary and Junior High Schools, three teachers were instrumental in encouraging their students to participate: thanks to Raven Behrens, Alexandria Pylant, and Jodi King for taking on this project!

The PSAs can be viewed on YouTube at:

The Smithville effort would not have been successful without the guidance and efforts of the Director of Playhouse Smithville, john daniels jr. (sic), John Dees at the After School program, and Ana Murray, Community and Parent Liaison with SISD. Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and the Friends of the Smithville Public Library sponsored prizes for the contest winners. “Having students participate in the educational process of others on the importance of recycling is powerful,” said Murray. “We are proud of our students’ work on this project.”

"All the students did an outstanding job," said Dees. "They worked hard to learn about recycling and communicate their environmental messages through posters and essays."

Bob Haisler’s High School Marketing Class at EISD created a magnet that points people to the Keep Bastrop County Beautiful (KBCB) website ( Although the students had planned to create more traditional marketing materials like brochures and fliers, they decided that these tools would be too wasteful— people would be more likely to throw out the papers or lose them in a pile of paperwork. However, many people keep magnets on their refrigerators for quick information in a useful spot.

“The students learned a lot about the costs of illegal dumping and improper disposal of HHW.  They enjoyed working on the project,” said Amy Miller, Community Development Director for the City of Elgin.

This grant also provided funds to help KBCB update the information in its “Talking Trash” Guidebook (which has also been translated into Spanish) and the Interactive Matrix on its website. The website will be updated periodically, extending the usefulness of the magnet, which will refer people to current information over time.

Results of a survey of student participants in these programs show that of the 110 who responded, 52% of these students enjoyed working on the project and 65% said this project helped them understand where they need to take different kinds of trash. Of these students, 30% already recycle at home, another 18% intend to start, and 33% said “maybe” they will begin recycling; 22% said that their families have changed how they throw out trash since they started working on this project while 20% said they already take different types trash to the correct facilities.



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