Hempstead High School was recently named recipient of the Iowa Award for Excellence in Recycling (Best School Recycling Program) given by the Iowa Recycling Association. Representatives from Hempstead’s Green Team received the award on July 23 at the association’s annual luncheon. The group was nominated for the award by Bev Wagner, education coordinator for the Dubuque Metropolitan Area Solid Waste Agency, who was also named the state’s Recycler of the Year at the event.

“…the Awards Committee felt strongly that Dubuque Hempstead Recycling Program and its multiple strategies demonstrate best practices that can be duplicated at other schools,” Yvette Clapp, president of the Iowa Recycling Association, and Awards Chair David Jackson said in the award notification letter. “We were very impressed with the breadth of the activities, such as cleanups, energy conservation, composting and sustainable behaviors.”

As part of its Green Vision Education Program, the Hempstead High School Green Team has created an environmentally friendly atmosphere in and around the school. Hempstead recycles papers, plastics, cans and cardboard in classroom bins and other areas of the building.

The Green Team has initiated campus clean-ups, energy conservation awareness, recycling, composting and gardening. The group is also involved with Dubuque community environmental events and has led the school in becoming certified as a Dubuque Metro Area Solid Waste Agency Green Vision Education School. It has initiated specific classes for collecting and monitoring recycling in the building, received grants and installed hydration stations around the school, and is collecting food scraps and composting them on-site.

Students from Hempstead High also traveled to an elementary school to work with students in establishing best practices for recycling. The students established a Twitter feed in addition to a Green Team website. By changing cultural norms, students are making lifelong changes toward increased recycling and responsible use of natural resources.