CHAMPAIGN — As about 35 students who attend Stratton Leadership and Microsociety Magnet School walked through Green Purpose in Champaign on Tuesday, they asked questions about items they saw, about how recycled items go through the local business to be reused and whether you can make money doing so.
They peppered Steven Rosenberg, the business' founder and CEO, about how Green Purpose works, why recycling is important and why he decided to found the business right out of college.
He was passionate about recycling and wants it to become something everyone does, he told them. It's also important because Illinois landfills only have 23 years of landfill space left.
"It's really up to you guys to push recycling," he told the first- through fourth-graders.
He advised students to follow their passions.
"It ... shows if you have persistence and drive, you can do anything," he said.
Stratton's summer camp is focused on leadership and learning about stainability, said Charles West, who's the site coordinator for the school's Microsociety magnet program.
During the one-week camp, the Stratton students are touring local sustainable businesses and have a chance to talk with the people who run them.
They're learning about leadership and how local businesses relate to Stephen Covey's "Seven Habits of Happy People," which is also used during the school year with the school's magnet focus.
This week, the students are also working in the community garden near their school on North Randolph Street, and will also tour Prairie Fruits Farm and the Champaign Urbana Schools Foundation's I.D.E.A. Store.
The goal of these activities is to get students thinking about where their garbage and recycling goes, where their food comes from and how some people are able to create businesses from these sustainable practices, West said. The students will meet these leaders and have the chance to ask them questions, much like they did with Rosenberg.
During the school year, the students participate in agencies or ventures, which are like businesses, that serve their classmates.
West said he's hoping the students will take what they learned this week back to their ventures next school year.
The students also discussed with their teachers how what they observed at Green Purpose fits in with Covey's seven habits, like being proactive, beginning with end goals in mind and thinking about ways one can benefit as others do, as well.
The students' work in the garden is also meant to help them understand the value of volunteering their time to a community effort, West said.
Tayliah Butler, who just finished the fourth grade at Stratton, said she learned plenty about recycling while visiting Green Purpose and likes learning about the community garden, including which plants were weeds and which should be left to grow into food.
She said she was surprised to hear about the limited space in Illinois landfills, as were her classmates.
"Now that we know it affects us, we want to help," Butler said.