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Recycling waste into art

In honor of Earth Day, two Southern Oregon University environmental science majors decided to bring their capstone project to the elementary school level Friday.

Chloe Lindgren and Emilie Brown teamed up for their senior project to teach Walker Elementary School students about waste and how it effects the natural area in which we live.

Their project consists of collecting recyclable waste at the school, creating a mosaic with the kids using the waste, and a two-day presentation to students.

“We’re trying to teach them about waste and recycling and ways to reuse different things,” Lindgren said. “We’re coinciding that with lessons about our natural ecosystems and specifically the Cascade–Siskiyou (National) Monument, and so our art piece is kind of reflecting that.”

Lindgren hand drew various animals and plants that can be found in the monument for the students to fill in with the waste in a mosaic style.

They spent the last three months collecting appropriate trash at the school. Friday was spent creating the art piece, and they’ll present their lesson plans this week to the fourth-grade class they’ve been working with. The first presentation will be focused on trash, pollution and recycling, and the second day will be about the monument and why it’s important to protect lands, Lindgren said.

“We also want to teach them why things (in the monument) are protected and why we want to take care of this land that we’re really lucky to live in,” Lindgren.

Once the art is complete and weatherized, it will be donated to The Farm at SOU to be displayed at one of its barns, Brown said.

“We wanted to do something abstract with our capstone project just because we’ve done a lot of really heavy science and we wanted a more applied project that was community based,” Lindgren said.

Brown said the idea originated from her love of kids and Lindgren’s artistic talent. She said most environmental science capstone projects this year are research-based.

“I think it’s really important to reach out to youth and to teach them how to appreciate lands,” Brown said. “We focused on local environments because I think a love and stewardship for the earth stems from local knowledge about our natural environments.”

— Contact Ashland freelance writer Caitlin Fowlkes at Caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.