Helping Mother Earth

West Branch School students participate in litter cleanup and poster project

PHOTO PROVIDED West Branch School students display the posters they made during an Earth Day event held last month.


Students from West Branch School recently took part in an Earth Day project and litter cleanup.

To help boost the awareness and importance of the holiday and a litter free Earth, the students created their own posters to coincide with the event. The posters, which ignite the sentiment that encompasses the holiday and aim to promote personal responsibility, showcase designs invoking everything from local to global environmental problems.

The project, which is held twice a year by the Newberry Community Partnership in September and April, was held at the West End Community Center on the corner of West Fourth and Diamond streets on Earth Day. Trash bags, gloves and refreshments were provided. The project was part of the Great American Clean UP of PA, which supplied the litterbugs through PennDOT.

Third through sixth grade students got involved, in part, thanks to Julie Hulslander, who retired from West Branch School after teaching for 12 years. And she got her start after involvement in the Newberry Community Partner­ship.

“I’m a former teacher at West Branch and have been involved with the Newberry Community Partnership for several years,” she said. “My participation in the Safe, Green and Clean committee has been helpful in organizing the two litter cleanups twice a year.”

“A year ago we had an idea that would be really fun,” she added. “To have students make posters, kids art work, to go along with event to remind the greater community about cleaning your litter.”

But it all came out of a personal need to keep the earth clean. “I have a passion for it because I can’t stand seeing a lot of litter,” Hulslander said. “And its something that people can do to have an immediate impact on our surroundings”

But it isn’t only students who participate in the event. Everyone from families, Americorps volunteers, Scout groups and church groups also have participated.

“It was really successful,” Hulslander said. “Two or three art pieces were transferred to permanent banners we have hung as we speak.”

Posters were placed around storefronts, on lawns, metal stands and rackets after the students get them laminated, according to Hulslander.

Previously, West Branch students participated by doing the litter cleanups only during school hours. Hulslander believed incorporating the poster-making project would help get the students involved more, as well as provide an eye-catching reminder to the community to stay on top of keeping the environment clean.

Some of the pieces, which don’t remain in town all year long, are showcased at the school’s annual fair each May. The posters read everything from “don’t be a litter bug” to encouraging the community to recycle and to “keep Newberry clean.”

But personally, and most importantly, Hulslander believes that instilling an environmentally conscious view in children is vital. “It’s important to start young and educate children on the importance of not littering and recycling,” she said.

And its impact on the students has been lasting. “I hope to achieve an awareness of the importance of keeping our part of town litter free,” she said. “Also, definitely the creative aspect of kids creating art for the sake of spreading a message, not just painting a picture.”

Hulslander plans to keep the tradition going, and to repeat the process of creating new pieces that are both aesthetically pleasing and environmentally conscious each year.