Bourbon High School receives $9,500 for vermicomposting

ST. JAMES—Bourbon High School was one of 11 local environmental programs awarded grant funding, totaling $200,729.78 through the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District (ORSWMD). The high school was awarded $9,536.56 to start a food waste reduction and vermicomposting program. Grant funding is provided by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR).

“We are very excited to receive this grant, which will enable us to build a partially enclosed carport close to our greenhouse,” Valarie McEuen, the art teacher at Bourbon High School, said. “This will become an outdoor classroom that will house our vermicomposting bins and composting tumblers.”

The program is a joint effort between the two Bourbon High School science instructors, Kevin Koppelmann and Penny Perriguey, and McEuen. Before applying for the grant, they discussed overall accessibility to other recycling and waste reduction opportunities, as well as other options for the schools food waste, said McEuen. Starting first with organic scraps from the high school kitchen salad bar food prep, they realized there was a legitimate need for the food waste reduction and vermicomposting program.

“In 10 days time, we had already accumulated 50 pounds of organic material; thus proving there is a legitimate need,” McEuen said. “In our research regarding this issue, we found that red wiggler worms offer a great way to quickly compost and students love to get hands on learning. We anticipate involving at least 100 students between our classes and have even started an after school W.O.R.M. (Working On Recycling Methods) club. The worms will offer a natural benefit to our program, and the additional compost will be created using the composting tumblers. As the program grows, we hope to donate our compost and excess worms to a nonprofit. This program will benefit our students, district and community.”

Each year, the ORSWMD board meets to review, discuss and approve grant applications. The goal of the grant program is to support projects that reduce waste being sent to landfills. These include waste reduction, recycling, composting and education programs. Once approved by the ORSWMD board, the grant applications are forwarded to MDNR for final approval. The following 11 grant applications were approved for 2017:

  • Phelps County Commission – Tough on Trash XI, $8,970;
  • Dixon High School Key Club – The Choice is Yours: Waste It or Recycle It, $4,950;
  • Maries County – Recycling for Environmental Excellence, $5,980;
  • Jack Kaufmann – In the Green Productions environmental education, $5,400;
  • Dixon Area Caring Center – Community Recycling Services, $28,637.20;
  • Bourbon High School – Food Waste Reduction and Vermicomposting, $9,536.56;
  • MRPC – Cities of Rolla and St. Robert for Household Hazardous Waste Collections, $37,161.30;
  • MRPC – Special Waste Collections (appliances, electronics, tires), $27,996.60;
  • MRPC – Community Outreach and Assistance Fund, $5,000;
  • MRPC – Illegal Dump Cleanup Program, $8,910.70; and
  • MRPC – Education, Public Awareness and Business Outreach, $33,553.53.

The grant funds awarded to MRPC are for district-wide projects identified as priorities by the solid waste district.

The 2018 grant cycle will open July 2017.

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 to encourage waste reduction and recycling projects in member counties and cities.

Those needing more information on waste reduction may contact Jill Hollowell, environmental programs specialist, at 573-265-2993 or by email at or visit the Ozark Rivers website 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.

To keep up with the latest MRPC news and events, visit the MRPC website at or on Facebook at