California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Environmental Ambassadors

Warner Unified School District

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Grantee Information

Warner Unified School District is a two-school, K-12 school district located in rural eastern San Diego County. Both schools in this district participated in the Environmental Ambassador Pilot Program. Warner USD was selected to participate as an Environmental Ambassador due to its strong demonstration of conservation practices for the past eight years, despite its remote location and lack of access to recycling markets.

As an example of Warner USD's commitment to resource conservation, the Warner School and Community Conservation Program that services the surrounding rural community recycled more than 10,000 gallons of used motor oil and 50,000 pounds of reusable materials by 2004. This activity is operated by the students and teachers at Warner USD and receives continuous funding through CIWMB's used oil block grants in cooperation with the County of San Diego.

In addition, Warner USD developed a native plant garden and built a greenhouse in an effort to grow oak seedlings from acorns for the purpose of restoring oak woodlands burned in recent fires. The greenhouse and the native plant garden are used as centers of education for both students and community members.

Educational efforts focused on the development of standards-based K-12 units related to local conservation and actual waste diversion activities on campus, including:

  • A focus on English-language arts and science standards in grades K-3, using classroom vermicomposting and classroom paper recycling as the vehicle for student investigation.
  • A focus on life cycles, earth science, and physical science centered on the oak tree project and the native plant garden in grades 4 and 5.
  • A focus on energy conservation and used oil recycling in grades 6-8.
  • A focus on soil science, chemistry, biology, and waste management alternatives using compost from the campus vermicomposting system at the district's "swine unit" (where swine manure is recycled for energy generation) as the center of the studies in grades 9-12.

As a result of the curricular planning and the accessibility of the actual waste diversion practices at Warner USD, most, if not all, students were involved at some point during the school year in a service-learning project.

Diversion Successes

Warner USD's diversion-related activities during the EAPP grant period included:

  • Adopting a districtwide resolution on environmental policies and actions tied to waste reduction and educational standards.
  • Collaborating with the County of San Diego to purchase a chipper to facilitate on-site composting of the schools' green waste and paper waste and a baler for cardboard to facilitate cardboard recycling.
  • Establishing an outdoor windrow-style vermicomposting system at Warner High School, through the Agricultural Department, using swine manure, chipped green waste and classroom paper waste, and occasionally food waste from the cafeteria. The final compost product is used on the campus vineyard.
  • Recycling large food cans from the kitchens.
  • The district also serves the surrounding community by operating the CRV (California redemption value) container recycling and used oil recycling through the Warner School and Community Conservation Program.

Media Gallery

  • Warner in the news Warner USD received recognition for its achievements in the San Diego Union Tribune! Read all about it! (April 2004)
  • Sherri Freeman, the lead teacher coordinating the EAPP grant for Warner USD, was given an award by the California Agricultural Teachers' Association for being one of the top 9 agriculture teachers in California for 2005. She was the only woman winning this award and was honored to be included in a group of very distinguished and well-known teachers.

Student Work Samples

Warner Unified School District recycling bins on cement pads poured by students.
  • Recycling Bins
    Students poured the cement pads for Warner's recycling bins (at right) and are completely responsible for the maintenance of the district's recycling program.
  • Vermicomposting System
    The outdoor windrow-style vermicomposting system at Warner High School diverts swine manure, chipped green waste and classroom paper waste, and occasionally food waste from the cafeteria. The final compost product is used on the campus vineyard.


Program Contacts

Environmental Ambassadors Home

Last updated: September 24, 2013
Office of Education and the Environment
Contact: (916) 341-6769