Recycle Bowl winners
Executive committee members of the Cen-Tex Partnership Ryan Haverlah (far left), city manager of Copperas Cove, Texas, and Col. Chad R. Foster (far right), commander, U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood, recognize Hettie Halstead Elementary School for their victory in the Greater Fort Hood Area Recycle Bowl during a school board meeting in Copperas Cove, Feb. 8. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT HOOD, Texas - Students in the area here are working to protect the environment with one recyclable item at a time.

In the hallways of Hettie Halstead Elementary in Copperas Cove, Texas, and Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary at Fort Hood, you will find the student councils dedicated to teaching their peers, educators and community about environmental sustainability.

“What you are doing has an impact way larger than this classroom. Thank you for being you and setting such a great example,” said Col. Chad R. Foster, commander of U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood. “To the teachers, parents and educational leaders, you are the ones that make a difference too and help these students to make their way in the world.”

As part of the Greater Fort Hood Area Recycle Bowl, students created a system for their schools to collect recyclables from classrooms and administrative areas, while competing for the $200 prize and bragging rights as the top recycle champion within Central Texas.

The competition is a Youth Environmental Ambassadors! initiative hosted by the Cen-Tex Sustainable Communities Partnership, in collaboration with Fort Hood Recycle and Child Youth and Services Adopt-A-School Program, that encourages schools to recycle.

As chairperson of the executive committee for the Cen-Tex Partnership, Foster recognized Hettie Halstead Elementary as the first place winner at the Copperas Cove Independent School District’s board meeting, Feb. 8 and visited Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary to recognize the school’s second place win, Feb. 9. Winning third place was the Comanche Torch Club from the Fort Hood Comanche Youth Center. Together, the top winners recycled 5,098 pounds of paper, cardboard and plastic products.

Hettie Halstead fifth-grader Kaybriegh Busby was proud of the achievement and recognition.

“We set our minds to a goal and achieved it,” she said. “It’s great to work our part and do what’s needed to help and make a big impact.”

Danica Diaz, a fifth-grader, challenged the community to rethink their actions and do their part to recycle, otherwise there could be long-lasting negative impacts.

“Think about all the bottles you use in your lifetime,” she said. “If you put that in the trash, it’s just going to go somewhere that is going affect the Earth in different ways.”

For fifth-grader Malakay Drayton, it was a humbling achievement, and a testament to his commitment as an environmental steward.

“I’m excited because when I was in third grade we won,” he said. “There was tons of teamwork. We tried our best to get as much recyclables as we could, but it was much of the whole school’s teamwork that made us successful.”

Their continued teamwork led to the school’s first place wins in 2017, 2019 and now 2021. As first year co-advisors for student council, Christina Newberry and Swantje Drayton, were proud of their students’ accomplishments.

“To be able to watch them recycle and value that, means so much to us as educators and as parents. We helped and facilitated, but they really took the reins,” Newberry said. “They are not letting anyone tell them what they can or cannot do as far as reaching goals and accomplishing them.”

“Many of those council members were so dedicated that they would not go to their specials so they could help with collections and weighing,” Drayton said. “Our students were excited to be a part of this and help people understand the importance and value of recycling.”

Recycle Runner Ups
U.S. Army Garrison - Fort Hood Commander Col. Chad R. Foster congratulates students and staff from the Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary School for their second place finish in the Greater Fort Hood Area Recycle Bowl, Feb. 9, at Fort Hood, Texas. The second place finish marks the sixth consecutive year the school has finished in the top three of the annual competition. (Photo Credit: Christine Luciano, Fort Hood DPW Environmental) VIEW ORIGINAL

For students at Oveta Culp Hobby, they were excited to help their school with its sixth consecutive win as one of the top three schools. Since 2016, its student have teamed up with educators and custodial staff as recycling advocates.

“Sometimes you feel like you can’t make a difference, but I want our students to know that they can. Like the garrison commander said, it might be something small but we don’t know what kind of effect it’s having on our installation and community here at school,” Cristina Miranda, counselor and student council co-sponsor, said. “Helping our students see that there is a bigger picture is important. They will continue on their own, when they move on to do these things at home or on their next campus.”

Lexi Hendrickson and Jimmy Lewis, third-graders at Oveta Culp Hobby Elementary, are leading as role models for their peers and helping others to recycle right.

“As leaders, we help take care of our community, and show others how we can do stuff right like picking up litter and recycling,” Hendrickson said.

“Student council means to be special about the environment and help the Earth more,” Lewis said. “Don’t say ‘oh I am just going to throw litter on the ground and not worry about it.’ Whenever you have something to recycle, put it in the right bin.”

The selfless service of students, staff and volunteers is paving the way, inspires leadership, teamwork, decision-making and confidence.

“It’s a great community service,” Miranda said. “It’s something you can get your student council to do and it’s something that makes an impact not just on them but on our community as a whole.”

Foster challenged Copperas Cove and Fort Hood students to help the post with its recycling program by creating public service announcements and recycling tips.

“I have a job for each of you,” he said. “Maybe the adults can look to your example of you doing the right thing. Then Fort Hood can actually generate a pretty significant amount of additional revenue and reinvest that back into our Soldiers and families’ quality of life on the installation.”