Throwback Thursday: Emerson Celebrates a Year of Successful Composting!

By Lisa Woo

As our Americorps terms comes to an end (July 15th is the last day for a handful of our team members) it is hard not to get sentimental about the past year of service. This end of term is especially nostalgic for me as I complete a two year chapter with the Apple Corps program. So, in honor of the amazing community I have had the chance to work with and all that they have taught me, here’s a little Throwback Thursday!

All year long, students at Emerson Elementary, the site school where I have taught nutrition education, have been exploring their role as Earth Stewards through a school-wide lunchroom composting initiative co-led by myself, and our fellow Apple Corps Member, Randa who served as the Active Play Coordinator. Together, we developed a student-led “Compost Hero” lunchroom monitor program that was able to engaged every student at each grade level. In addition, we held several health promotions throughout the year that allowed students to understand the close connection between environmental and personal health!

Students at Emerson embraced the title of "Compost Hero" with their fearless leader, Ms. Randa, a fellow Apple Corps Member (pictured top center)

Students at Emerson embraced the title of “Compost Hero” with their fearless leader, Ms. Randa, a fellow Apple Corps Member (pictured top center)

One such promotion was our Earth Day: Caught Green Handed Celebration, which challenged students to do good deeds for the earth and identify the ripple effects those acts have on their community. Students enjoyed posing in our “Caught” picture frame and having their photos displayed proudly throughout the school hallways.


Students turning compost into our school garden beds.

The year ended strong with a final school-wide competition that pitted primary grade levels (Kindergarten, First, and Second) against the intermediate grade levels (Third, Fourth, and Fifth) in a Food Waste Challenge similar to the promotion held at Concord Elementary (see link). The challenge was a great way to wrap up a year of compost education and stimulated great conversation among students about how important reducing food waste is for both our bodies and our earth, despite having a fantastic alternative waste deposit system. Paired with quality time in the garden and hands on worm explorations our final week of composting was nothing short of fantastic!

garden picture

A group of students deeply engrossed in their worm exploration!

Great job, Emerson Eagles!


Apple Corps Members Awarded Conservation Champions!

This week was a call for celebration (a zero waste celebration) as Apple Corps Nutrition Educators Lisa Woo and Brian Sindel were both named “Conservation Champions” at their respective schools, Emerson and Van Asselt Elementary. The Conservation Champions Award is given by Seattle Public Schools to individuals who foster a culture of conservation at their sites. Both Lisa and Brian’s contributions to their schools more than qualified them to be nominated for this prestigious honor.


Lisa transformed this once abandoned area into a verdant outdoor classroom!

First let’s look at winner #1’s green profile: Ms. Lisa Woo.

For those of you who are devoted followers of the Apple Corps Blog you may already know that Lisa has been hard at work building and tending her school garden at Emerson Elementary. Starting with some old rickety garden beds and a swath of overgrown shrubs, Lisa has miraculously transformed Emerson’s garden into a beautiful living classroom. With her physical garden in place she has taken her nutrition lessons outside the school’s four walls as she now leads garden exploration classes with her students. In addition to showing her gardeners the importance of healthy, locally grown produce; she also ties in themes of environmental stewardship.

Van Asselt

Brian’s revived this forgotten garden giving his students the chance to explore nature’s wonders!

Now to our second winner’s green profile: Mr. Brian Sindel

Just like Lisa, Brian has also been spending time working on his own school garden at Van Asselt Elementary. With the garden Brian has designed lesson plans to invigorate his students’ curiosity and appreciation for the natural world. Though, Brian still spends most of his time working inside the classroom and his award is a result of his composting efforts. As a way to eliminate the term ‘food waste’ from his students dialect, he has created a system of collecting compostable items from his lessons and taking them offsite to avoid the landfill.

Most importantly, as Conservation Champs, Lisa and Brian have helped green their schools in more ways than one. Part of the award includes $400 for each of their schools to use in continuing and future conservation efforts. Not to mention they also received Certificates of Appreciation to frame on their walls.

Here’s to their hard work and their ability to not let their new found celebrity status abandon their ‘roots’!

Apple Corps on the Run!


Coach Lisa & Coach Cristina, two Apple Corps Nutrition Educators, ran with and cheered on their running team as they crossed the finish line!

One of the greatest things about being a Nutrition Educator in the schools is the opportunity to build programs and foster relationships with students and staff at your site school. Concord International School, one of the site schools for the Apple Corps program is a perfect example of this.

As a second-year Nutrition Educator at Concord, Cristina has done an outstanding job of building community within the South Park neighborhood where Concord is located, and inviting new programs to enhance the school experience for her students.

Go team

This spring, Cristina, along with her Co-teacher, Amelia, brought the Girls on the Run program to Concord to introduce fun ways to stay physically active and empower young girls to be the best versions of themselves! The program brought together 12 third, fourth, and fifth-grade girls from Concord to discuss tough topics like bullying, gossiping, and body image, while training for a 5K run at the end of the season. With fellow Apple Corps Nutrition Educator, Lisa serving as Lead Coach, we watch this group of 12 individuals grow into a strong and supportive team!

finish line

Coaches crossing the finish line!

The season ended with a big hurrah at the culminating 5K run around Seward Park! Each teammate was paired with a running buddy from the community and successfully completed the run along with over 500 other girls from around the Puget Sound! As coaches, we could not be more proud of our Concord champions and the amazing spirit they showed all season.

Concord is excited to bring the Girls on the Run program back for a Fall 2013 season!

What’s Growing On with School-Based Apple Corps?

team Apple Corps Garden

My word! The Apple Corps blog has come out from hibernation with a flurry of exciting new projects for spring! Our team of School Based Nutrition Educators (Brian, Lisa, and Cristina) spent their winter “in hiding” working behind the scenes to jump start a variety of new programs at their site schools located throughout South Seattle.

At our most recently monthly Apple Corps Team Day, Lisa invited her fellow Applets to lend a hand in the new school garden she launched at Emerson Elementary just a month ago! With the support of community partners and a garden grant from Annie’s Homegrown (you know, Cheddar Bunnies!) Lisa has been hard at work building a school garden program from scratch! The Apple Corps team did a tremendous job transforming the garden space and come April, Lisa is excited to transfer her cooking-based nutrition education classes into garden-based classes!

Brian Seeds

Brian sorting through seed packets generously donated by Lettuce Link

Brian has also been hard at work balancing a full schedule of nutrition classes AND reviving a school garden at one of his own site schools! Both Brian and Lisa are so grateful for the community partners that have provided endless amounts of support and resources to help build these new school garden programs. A generous donation of organic seeds from the Lettuce Link program at Solid Ground–which manages Marra Farm (another Apple Corps site placement)–will allow all of our students to participate in the seed to table process!

Building Community One Pupusa at a Time!

3_2013_lisa and caitlin

Apple Corps members, Lisa and Caitlin, chow down on Pupusas at Concord’s Student-Led Community Kitchen

3_2013 chopping hands

Concord students hard at work making pupusas for their first Community Kitchens event

In more, equally as exciting news, Cristina, our Nutrition Educator at Concord, successfully organized and hosted the first-ever Student-Led Community Kitchen event with a group of talented fourth grade chefs! The night featured an El Salvadorian menu of Pupusas, cabbage salad, and Spanish rice, plus a special banana split dessert with ice cream donated from Full Tilt Ice Cream. YUM! With over 50 friends, faculty, and families in attendance the event was a hit and the school is abuzz with excitement for these monthly events.

Needless to say, our team of School-Based Apple Corps member are hard at work, dedicating themselves to the students and communities they serve. And to think…there’s six more Apple Corps members doing even more amazing work throughout Seattle! Stay tuned to find out more!