Take Action Today Awards


Each year, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control's (DHEC) Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling (Office) recognizes South Carolina schools and educators for their outstanding waste reduction and recycling efforts through the Take Action Today Awards Program.

The following award recipients were recognized for their outstanding recycling projects and initiatives for the 2016-2017 school year during DHEC’s annual Take Action Today Environmental Education Workshop in June.


Dutch Fork
Elementary School

Irmo, SC

Outstanding Composting School for 2016-2017

Under the direction of Amy Umberger, the students at Dutch Fork are “sorting it out” during breakfast and lunch and turning their food waste into compost.

The students collect paper napkins, food trays, milk and juice cartons, paper towels and any food scraps. The items are separated and weighed. Daily data is kept detailing food waste, recycling, and landfill weights.

These records are clearly displayed and the students see the benefits of their efforts. The 530 students have diverted 25 tons of food waste from the landfill this school year! The compost is used in the school gardens where the students plant, grow, and harvest fruits and vegetables. From sorting food waste to planting with compost soil, Dutch Fork’s composting program offers many learning experiences for their students.


Elementary School

Horry County, SC

Outstanding Composting School for 2016-2017

Led by Principal Katherine Roberts, students at Lakewood are doing the “rot” thing with their food scraps in the cafeteria to reduce waste going into the landfills. After meals, they sort out food and trash into bins for Composting, Recycling and Landfill.

This school year, 58 tons of waste were diverted from the landfill. The students are learning about decomposition and ecosystems by vermicomposting (composting with worms) which ties into the S.C. Science Standards.

Throughout the year, a fresh market is set up where the produce from the gardens is sold.

At Lakewood Elementary School, the students see the full cycle from waste to compost to plant growth. 


A.C. Moore
Elementary School

Columbia, SC

Outstanding School Recycling Program for 2016-2017

The school's recycling efforts under the leadership of Nancy Frick is impressive. It has many green programs including recycling and garden clubs, the use of rain barrels, eco-crafts and poster contests. 

The special education students collect classroom recyclables filling 4 to 5 rolling bins with office paper, newspaper, cardboard, plastics and cans. The school's Scoop the Poop campaign provides poop bags for the neighborhood dogs. The students take an active part in the community and have written letters to their state representatives promoting environmental legislation. They have attended the Conservation Voters Lobby Day and met with state senators and house representatives.

Students, faculty and staff are involved and make a positive difference in their school and community.


Darcy Jones

Seaside Elementary School,
Horry County, SC

Outstanding Recycling Teacher for 2016-2017

Darcy Jones has led Seaside Elementary School in an ambitious recycling program since 2008.

She ensures constant communication with the staff and students through “Rays for the Days” on the morning show. In addition to recycling juice pouches, plastic bottles and cans in the cafeteria, the school collects magazines, plastic film/bags, markers, batteries, tape dispensers and toothbrushes on their “Recycling Row” in the hallway. 

Jones encourags students and teachers to participate in a cafeteria composting program and use the compost in the school's garden to grow cucumbers, squash, zucchini, tomatoes and eggplants.

The school also maintains an herb garden with lavender, oregano, basil, lemon basil, parsley, sage, thyme, dill, two lemon trees and a lime tree.

The school also participates in DHEC’s Breathe Better Program. Community partners are very important and through them, Jones has secured more than $5,000 to boost the school’s environmental programs. 

Dozens of more great things could be listed that she has done at her school.

Congratulations, Darcy, for being an Outstanding Recycling Teacher!





Tammi Lee

Early College High School,
Horry County, SC

Outstanding Recycling Teacher for 2016-2017

Working with high school students can be a challenge, but this Tammi Lee has found great success.

She has implemented a program where students on campus of Early College High School manage campus clean-ups, off-campus clean-ups and weekly classroom recycle pick-up.

With a $2,000 grant from Lowe’s, the school purchased four raised garden beds and the students have learned to plant and maintain the beds for a beautiful display of fall/winter flowers and spring/summer gardens.

The school hosts a Recycle Fashion show in which the entire school participates as an Earth Day Extravaganza. Students model outfits made out of recycled material. After they started their composting program, students took note of how many bags of trash were created from using Styrofoam.

Her team met with the cafeteria manager and was able to convince them to use washable trays, resulting in a 15 percent reduction in trash disposal. 

Lee demonstrates recycling in a very impressive way with these high school students. She participates with her students not only in school, but in community events all over the county. She instills fun and commitment with fundamental recycling habits.

High school students are not easy to lead into a dumpster, but she did it!  She has made a huge impact on these students.

Congratulations, Tammi, for being an Outstanding Recycling Teacher for 2016-2017!


Spotlight Teacher

Melany Nussbaumer, North Myrtle Beach Middle School, Horry County, SC


Rising Stars

Early College High School, Horry County, SC -- Rising Star for Outstanding School Composting Program


Black Water Middle School, Horry County, SC -- Rising Star for Outstanding School Composting Program


Pleasant Hill Elementary School, Lexington County -- Rising Star for Outstanding School Recycling Program


Amy Price from River Bluff High School, Lexington County -- Rising Star for Outstanding Recycling Teacher. 



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