January 6, 2010

Using their imagination and creativity, students in Western Kentucky rejuvenated old newspapers, scraps of yarn, magazine clippings and even used bubblegum to create trash sculptures that promoted reusing and recycling.

The project was a part of the Regional Trash Sculpture Contest sponsored by the Regional Recycling Corporation. The corporation is comprised of solid waste coordinators and judge-executives from Caldwell, Crittenden, Trigg, Marshall, Lyon and Livingston counties. Several of the counties' University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service agents for 4H Youth development serve on the corporation's education committee, which coordinated the contest.

"If we can educate kids to recycle at school, then they will go home and recycle, and it will become a habit," said Janeen Tramble, Trigg County extension agent for 4H Youth development. "Then they can teach or encourage their parents to recycle if they haven't always been recyclers."

Kindergarten through 12th grade students in those six counties were encouraged to participate. While promoting recycling, the students displayed their creativity and artistic ability. Sculptures at the regional level covered an array of subjects, including turkeys, baseball fields, coal mines and recycling centers.

"The best thing about it is they took an art project and a very important recycling project and put them together to make a purposeful art project," said Becky Hartigan, regional contest judge and retired middle school art teacher in Caldwell County.

"The creativity that these kids use is pretty amazing, and it gives them an extra thought about what they might be doing with what they throw away," said Shane Bogle, regional contest judge and agriculture and natural resources extension agent for Caldwell County.

For many of the participants, the contest began in November. Sculptures were judged beginning at either the school or county level, and the top sculptures from each of the participating counties were brought to the University of Kentucky's Research and Education Center in Princeton to be judged in the regional contest.

The top three winners from each of the four divisions were displayed at the UK Research and Education Center. In addition, winners at each contest level received cash prizes. Regional winners received $50 for third place, $100 for second and $150 for first.