Jenna Bicknell
Walla Walla Dirt Day Internship
Final Report

The Event

Walla Walla Dirt Day is in association with the opening Saturday of the Walla Walla Farmers Market. A great family event, Dirt Day has kids activities like face painting, book readings, and seed potting; offers reduced priced compost tumblers, and will have several guest speakers including a master gardener. The focus of Dirt Day is on composting, organic waste disposal, and organic living in general and is coordinated by the Regional Waste Reduction and Recycling Center. Dirt Day is one of several community outreach programs, which are designed to educate kids and adults about different waste disposal methods and to provide the resources necessary to implement feasible recycling strategies for the community and its residents.

Objectives

• Publicize Dirt Day in whatever creative, cost-efficient ways possible.
• Get Campus Clubs and Organizations involved in the event.

The Internship

My internship has entailed heading up publicity and recruiting volunteers to be at the event. Truly I have been helping my adviser Kate Johnson with whatever needed to be done to prepare for the event, but most of my work is going to be grunt work the two weeks prior to the event. In preparation for Dirt Day I wrote and recorded a PSA with Kate which has been aired on KWCW. I have coordinated my sorority Kappa Alpha Theta to head up publicity at the local schools and downtown. The Thetas will also be volunteers at the event and will help children pot plants. The Organic Garden Club volunteers are going to help hand out seedlings, compost samples, and coffee grinds from Starbucks. The Co-op will have an informational booth and I am encouraging them to generate informational material to hand out at Dirt Day and possibly solicit private donations. Other things I have done or plan to do include: making a poster and volunteer buttons, putting up posters, selecting books for children’s reading, picking up seedlings from Irv Hashimoto, and creating a “Dirt Day Passport”.

What I’ve Learned

Not only have I learned about compost options in Walla Walla, but I have begun to see into the life of a social worker. The Walla Walla Regional Compost Facility accepts grass clippings, straw, leaves, garden waste, wood waste, and brush at $3.50 per cubic yard and sells finished compost for $30 per cubic yard. This is one phenomenal option to decreasing waste that would otherwise be taken to the dump. The Waste Reduction and Recycling Center provides a guide for starting your own home compost pile, citing all the economic and organic benefits. They have tons of information for waste conscience individuals and hopefully this material will see the light of Dirt Day. The work of this office is so important, but their jobs are underpaid, their budgets are slim, and the potential projects limitless.

Recommendations

It’s hard to say right now what I would recommend to future people who take on this internship. I would recommend using your creativity to think up new and exciting events for Dirt Day instead of following what has been done in the past. This internship requires someone who can coordinate volunteers easily and proved easy for me because of my affiliation with Kappa Alpha Theta. Greek groups in general are easy to mobilize for a service project like this and so no affiliation would really be necessary to get one of Whitman’s Greek organizations to commit. One future project which could come out of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Center would be writing a grant for a glass crusher. I have just begun to investigate the options for glass recycling in Eastern Washington and I would have to say the options are pitiful. With rising gas prices and a booming wine industry, something must be done to decrease the amount of glass ending up in the landfills.