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A peek into EnviroKids’ Club: Q&A with two partner agencies

Posted on August 19, 2020 at 6:00 am

By Erin Dodge

Next week, we’re hosting three EnviroKids’ Club programs (sign up before they fill up!), each showing kids and their families different ways that they can champion the environment and take action to make changes at home and in their neighborhoods.

In case you missed the announcement, here are those three programs:

EnviroKids’ Club: The Air We Breathe
Ages 8+ & their families
ONLINE
Monday, Aug 24, 2–3pm | REGISTER

EnviroKids’ Club: To Flush or Not to Flush?
Ages 8+ & their families
ONLINE
Tuesday, Aug 25, 2–3pm | REGISTER

EnviroKids’ Club: Worms Eat the Darnedest Things!
Ages 8+ & their families
ONLINE
Wednesday, Aug 26, 2–3pm | REGISTER

You can learn more about these three programs in last week’s post: Explore the air you breathe, the water you flush & worms that eat garbage with the EnviroKids’ Club.

I was able to learn more about two agencies that are partners and sponsors of EnviroKids’ Club for Spokane County. Kris Major from Spokane’s Solid Waste Disposal Department and Stephanie May from Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency answer some questions and share insights about their organizations.

Q&A WITH ENVIROKIDS’ CLUB AGENCIES

Erin Dodge: The upcoming EnviroKids Club events will help kids and families see how what we all do in our day-to-day lives affects the environment in our homes, towns, and region. What is something fairly easy or perhaps free that people can do to make a difference?

Kris Major: Find ways to reduce the amount of waste they throw away. Practicing the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) has never been more important!

One way to do that at home is to compost. Families can compost in a backyard pile, use a green bin from their garbage hauler, or start a worm bin. Almost a third of everything we toss in the trash could be composted. That’s a great place to start to throw less away!

Stephanie May: In Spokane, over half of our air pollution is emitted from motor vehicles. An easy way to help our air quality is by driving less. Try riding your bike, walking, talking the bus, combining errands to avoid unnecessary car trips and carpooling with members of your own household.

Erin: What are some common misconceptions about what your organization does? What is the coolest or most surprising thing about your organization that you wish everyone knew?

Kris: Most people in Spokane County don’t know where their garbage goes. If they were to guess, they would say it goes to the “dump.” Actually, there are five closed landfills in our county, but they no longer take trash because of the threat of polluting our aquifer. Why bury more garbage on top of our sole source of drinking water, right? 

In Spokane, we send our trash to a Waste to Energy Facility where garbage is burned and electricity is generated for 13,000 homes. It is the only facility of its kind in Washington state.

Stephanie: Spokane Clean Air monitors the air quality in Spokane County 24/7. Our air monitors are strategically placed to allow us to report Spokane County’s air shed quality. The pollutants we monitor are microscopic and include PM10, PM2.5 and ground level ozone (see the image below).

Fine particulate matter (PM) shown to scale compared to a human hair
Fine particulate matter (PM) shown to scale compared to a human hair

Erin: I’m thinking about kids who might want to work for an organization like yours when they are done with school. What types of work do different people do at your organization? Also, what are some ways kids (and their families) can get involved while they’re still in school?

Kris: Spokane’s Waste to Energy Facility employs over 80 people. Jobs range from heavy equipment operators and laborers to environmental managers, safety officers, machinists, and electricians. We also have clerks, accountants, and a waste reduction educator (that’s me). 

Taking classes in math and science provides a good foundation for many of the jobs in the field of solid waste.

Stephanie: There are a few different ways people can work for Spokane Clean Air. Our Air Quality Specialists conduct inspections, respond to citizen complaints, do routine surveillance, enforce air pollution regulations, and participate in public education programs. Our Engineers help businesses control what they put out into the air, using math, research, and problem-solving. Our Air Quality Technicians monitor what’s in the air, using air monitors located throughout Spokane County. They use this information to forecast our air quality. Our Public Information Specialists create programs to help educate the public about Spokane’s air quality. They do this through presentations, writing, graphic design, and partnerships with other agencies.

Spokane Clean Air has a program that kids and parents can get involved in in their neighborhoods. We offer a No-Idle Zone program to local schools. The goal is to stop unnecessary idling to improve air quality and respiratory health around schools.

If you are interested in implementing a No-Idle Zone program at your school or adapting it for another organization, our agency can help with advice and consultation, signs, and other materials. A program coordinator for the program could be a teacher, parent, PTA group, student group, or other interested party.

Thanks for caring about the air!

Kris Major

Kris Major is the Education Coordinator for the City of Spokane’s Solid Waste Disposal Department. She has worked over 25 years as an informal educator for both public and non-profit organizations in Idaho and Washington states. As an Education Coordinator for Spokane, she works with all ages and audiences teaching about waste reduction, recycling, re-use, and composting. She coordinates the Master Composter/Recycler program and its volunteers who conduct community outreach on waste reduction throughout the county. In 2016, The Washington State Recycling Association honored Kris by naming her its Individual Recycler of the Year.

Stephanie May

Stephanie May is the Public Information Specialist at Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency. She helps educate the community about Spokane’s air and how we can all help keep it clean.

Erin Dodge

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