MRPC News Release

For immediate release
October 24, 2016

For more information, contact
            Jill Hollowell at (573) 265-2993

ORSWMD to recognize individuals for environmental efforts

ST. JAMES–Each year, Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District (ORSWMD) bestows awards on individuals and organizations that help the district meet its goal of reducing solid waste by 40 percent through a commitment to recycling and waste management.

At the Sept. 27 ORSWMD meeting, the executive board reviewed the nominations submitted and selected a local educator; a volunteer organization; an environmental education business; and a state park to recognize during its Annual Meeting scheduled for November 29.
These recipients include:

  • Valerie McEwen, of Bourbon High School
  • The Eco-Miners, Missouri University of Science and Technology
  • Earth’s Classroom, Rosebud
  • Onondaga Cave State Park, Crawford County
  • Dixon High School Key Club Recycling, Dixon

  “They are the ones out there in the real world, making things happen and making a difference, so we like to take a little time out each year and recognize and thank those folks,” ORSWMD Chairman Brady Wilson said. “We hold a banquet each year for the purpose of highlighting their work and what the district has accomplished.”

Valerie McEwen, a teacher at Bourbon High School, has instilled a deep sense of environmental awareness in her students. She has facilitated student participation in the ORSWMD’s Earth Day art contest.  McEwen’s student field trips to the local landfill, wastewater treatment center and the Rolla Recycling Center are the hands-on experience that leads to students preparing projects from public service announcements encouraging waste minimization to the hazards of plastic pollution in oceans. McEwen was nominated by Leo Sanders, presiding commissioner of Crawford County.

The Eco-Miners is a volunteer group of students from the Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) in Rolla. This group of students has worked with the ORSWMD to clean up a number of illegal dumpsites located near Mill Creek, Kitchen Branch and the Newburg Cemetery. The Eco-Miners were nominated by Brady Wilson, chairman of the ORSWMD and director of Rolla’s Environmental Services Department.

Earth’s Classroom, located in Rosebud, was founded in 1999 by Bill and Jody Miles to provide environmental education. They have worked hard on the 179-acre facility to make it the “blackboard” to teach from. They deliver environmental education for students of all ages and to the general public. During each and every visit, there is a recycling presentation on the why and how to use their onsite recycling center. Earth’s Classroom was nominated by MRPC staff.

Onondaga Cave State Park is located in Crawford County on the Meramec River. Park staff have worked hard to not only promote the park but to raise awareness and educate the public on a broad spectrum of environmental issues through special events and festivals held at the park. In addition, the park has doubled the amount of material recovered for recycling from 3,052 pounds in 2013 to 6,101 pounds in 2015. The park’s recycling plan is very detailed and includes park operations as well as recycling options for park visitors. Onondaga Cave State Park was nominated by MRPC staff.

The Dixon High School Key Club, with the assistance of an ORSWMD grant, educated 500 elementary school students on recycling. The club purchased 16 gallon curbside recycling containers and desk side containers for use in the school. They also expanded their recycling program to local banks and to collecting junk mail from the post office. The Dixon High School Key Club was nominated by MRPC staff.

The awards banquet is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the MRPC offices, located at 4 Industrial Drive, St. James, Mo.

The Ozark Rivers District includes Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities with populations of 500 or more. The district's strategy for solid waste reduction, which has been individually adopted by all member governments and approved by MDNR, involves intense education and increased recycling efforts in member counties and cities.

For more information about ORSWMD or recycling opportunities in the Ozark Rivers area, contact Jill Hollowell, MRPC environmental programs specialist, at 573-265-2993 or by email at

Formed in 1969, MRPC is a voluntary council of governments serving Crawford, Dent, Gasconade, Maries, Osage, Phelps, Pulaski and Washington counties and their respective cities. A professional staff of 25, directed by the MRPC board, offers technical assistance and services, such as grant preparation and administration, housing assistance, transportation planning, environmental planning, ordinance codification, business loans and other services to member communities.


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