Austin ISD Sustainability Projects Keep Austin Beautiful

Martin Middle School seventh-grader Carlos Venegas has been honored with the Keep Austin Beautiful 2015 Youth Achievement Award. 

Venegas participated in a project at Lady Bird Lake. He pulled an eight-foot log out of the water and investigated the organisms living inside. He used a Dell tablet and digital microscope for the project.

Eastside Memorial High School senior Lorenzo Sanchez was a finalist for the award, which recognizes students for implementing or maintaining outstanding youth projects or activities to clean, beautify or restore an area or promote environmental stewardship. 

Sanchez has participated in numerous service projects and field trips throughout the year to plant trees, clean up grounds and participate in educational events. Sanchez co-led a beautification project at Eastside Memorial to install two new gardens and plant six fruit trees.

Lamar Middle School was a finalist for the Education Award. The award is given to schools that raise awareness about environmental stewardship through educational activities.

The school has implemented several sustainability projects on campus, including 14 raised beds of edible gardens, a native species garden, a chicken coop and a three-tier compost system. In 2014, four community workdays were held, involving about 60 volunteers. In November, more than 80 pounds of produce was harvested. The chickens lay an average of 18 eggs per week. The eggs from the Lamar chicken coop are used in culinary arts classes and cooking demos for the Green Teens club.

This spring, the school hopes to include the eggs in part of the Lamar Mini Farmers' Market Project. The project is made possible by a Bright Green Future grant from the City of Austin.