By Alicia Doyle

The Writer
Specializing in Good News
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Recycling brings reward to school


Juan Carlo / Star staff: Hayden Yeany, 17, a junior at Royal High School in Simi Valley, collects recyclables on campus in a program he instituted as a requirement toward reaching his Eagle Scout status. "It's had a very positive effect," says school Principal Dan Houghton.

Scouting project tidies up campus, provides revenue

Ventura County Star/May 21 2008

Hayden Yeany will never forget his mother Stacy's response to the litter she saw at Royal High School while she was preparing a pizza party during his freshman year.

"My mom was appalled by the amount of litter in one of the lunching areas," recalled the 17-year-old junior. "When she asked the janitor if this was normal, he laughed, saying that the students leave their trash exactly where they finish their lunch."

With that, Yeany saw the need to launch a project to clean up and promote recycling on campus. It was also good timing with his goal to pursue Eagle Scout status with the Boy Scouts of America — a distinction earned by only two to three Scouts per 100.

"I wanted to create a truly significant project that would greatly benefit my school," Yeany said.

With support from the school's administration and help from fellow Boy Scouts from Troop 642 in Simi Valley, Yeany launched a project in March that includes 20 new recycling bins across the campus and banners that promote recycling.

So far, the program is reaping noticeable results, said the school's principal, Dan Houghton.

"When I'm out on campus after lunch, I can definitely see a difference in the trash on campus," Houghton said. "The students are responding. It's had a very positive effect."

Yeany's recycling effort is something the school has been trying to put in place for years, Houghton added.

"He's the first student who had a plan, stuck to it, got people to help and pulled it off," Houghton said. "Instead of looking for someone else to do it, or sitting around and complaining, Hayden decided he would take it on. He's been a bulldog and that kind of perseverance sets a good example for everybody — not just students, but everyone."

Long-lasting impact

It took a great deal of personal commitment and leadership to launch a project of this magnitude, said Richard Rasmussen, Troop 642 scoutmaster.

"This would not have happened without Hayden convincing the administration that this program would not only benefit the campus but would have a long-lasting impact and would be self-sustaining when he left the school," Rasmussen said. "That's a critical element of an Eagle Scout project. It really has to change infrastructure in some way."

Before he decided on the recycling project, Yeany's first idea was to construct a gazebo near the middle of the school, as decor, a shady lunch spot and a solution to the problem of seagulls overhead.

"However, the project would have been too expensive, too laborious, too long and too demanding of maintenance in the future," Yeany said.

Then he considered replanting the rose garden behind the office, because the area was bare.

"However, the project was already under development," Yeany said.

That's when the idea to launch a recycling project came to mind.

To begin, Yeany — a Granada Hills native who has lived in Simi Valley since 2003 — met with the president of Burbank Recycling, Geoff Folsom, to discuss his plan.

"He was a terrific source of support, and he offered to send two large recycling bins to the school and give 100 percent redemption funds on recycled materials," said Yeany, who had to gain approval from the Boy Scout Council, his scoutmaster and the Boy Scout Commission for his project.

He also had to solicit participation by teachers at Royal High who would be willing to support and promote the project long after he graduates.

Gathering materials

"During this time, I mailed many letters asking for private donations from friends and family for the necessary supplies and equipment I would need," said Yeany, who raised about $2,100 to purchase heavy-duty, specially designed recycling bins, lids and locks.

He also designed and purchased promotional items, including banners and mini-posters, to raise awareness of the project and encourage students to throw away trash and recycle.

"This was designed as a student-run program, with the revenue going back to the Associated Student Body," Yeany explained. "They can use the money for all kinds of things gifts to enhance the campus, charity in the community or school projects or events."

The importance of a program like this one is threefold, he said.

"First, it creates a cleaner campus and a place of pride for all of us. Second, knowing how important recycling is to the future of the planet, and not doing it, would be completely irresponsible," Yeany said.

"Third, if my trash for cash campaign catches on, the students here can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from helping a family in need, or providing necessities for someone that hasn't got them, or giving something back in some other special way."

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