Photography lesson

Lesson of the Day: “The Unlikely Rise of New York’s Compost Champion”

Featured Article: “The Unlikely Rise of New York’s Compost Championby Cara Buckley

Growing up in the Bronx, Domingo Morales never cared about urban farming and he thought vegetables were gross. However, after landing a job with a non-profit organization that trains young people in solar installation, horticulture and other green jobs, Mr. Morales found a way to become, arguably, the New York’s most famous composter.

In this lesson, you will learn about the life of Mr. Morales and his initiative called Compost Power. Then you will find something you can do in your school or community to benefit the environment.

Note to teachers: The featured article mentions some adult topics. Please read it before giving it to the students.

Take a few minutes to write about how you and your family handle waste: In a typical week, what kind of things do you throw away? Do you throw everything in the trash? Do you recycle? Do you compost? Do you ever feel guilty about what or how much you throw away?

The article you will read today talks about composting. Watch this six-minute video from NowThis to learn more about the process:

Then tell us:

  • What interesting fact did you learn about composting?

  • What is the question you ask yourself?

  • After watching this video, are you more inclined to find a way to compost your food scraps? Why or why not?

Read the articlethen answer the following questions:

1. How did Domingo Morales get into urban gardening? Why had he hesitated to try it before? Do you identify with any part of his journey?

2. What is the program that Mr. Morales created? Does something like this exist in your community? If you live in a city, check out this map to see what composting services are available in your area.

3. What are some of the potential environmental benefits of Mr. Morales’ program?

4. What was Mr. Morales’ life like before joining Green City Force? How did he excel in this job opportunity?

5. How did Mr. Morales overcome the challenges he faced in 2018 to finally win a David Award?

6. How is Mr. Morales portrayed throughout the article? Does it remind you of leaders in your community or someone you admire for their contribution to your city?

What is one environmental action you can take in your home or school community?

Start by brainstorming a list of ideas. Here are some things you might consider:

  • Do you recycle at home or at school? What could make the process easier or clearer for people?

  • Is composting available where you live? Is it accessible to everyone? What could make it more accessible?

  • How much do people care about the environment and climate change where you live? Could you do something to explain to your friends and family why these issues matter?

  • What else is important to your community when it comes to the environment?

Now pick an issue you want to focus on based on what you’ve identified as concerns for your community, and create something to help educate people about it. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a poster, infographic, public service announcement, flyer or social media post with information and a strong message about your topic.

  • Create labels for trash cans and recycling bins that help people know how to properly dispose of waste.

  • Organize a demonstration or training to educate people about the environment.

Then, make a plan to put your project into action. Here are some questions to think about:

  • What materials do you need to complete this project? Where can you research for this?

  • Who could you work with to help you realize your vision? Could one of your peers, parents, teachers, librarians, guardians or administrators help you?

  • Does anyone else already do this work in your community? Could you associate yourself with this person or organization?

  • What is your timeline?

Finally, take action and let us know how it goes! Once you have a plan in place or have started your project, share it in the comments section of this article.

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