Pleasantdale Elementary: Zeroing in on Closing the Loop

  • Project Type: Path to Net Zero, Habitat Restoration & Biodiversity, Food Garden, Outdoor Learning Space, Waste Reduction
  • Students: 111
  • Staff: 5
  • Mentor: Theresa Johnston
  • Location: Milledgeville, IL
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten & 1st

Winner: First Place Elementary School

Pleasantdale Elementary's project was recognized with the 1st Place Elementary School award by the panel of Illinois Green Schools Project reviewers.

The Project

As this year’s ILGSP 1st Place Elementary School Winner, Pleasantdale Elementary students learned about the importance of native plants and how to compost their snack food scraps. The school year’s project involved collecting and distributing native plant seeds and building an educational “Seed Library” in the Pleasantdale Butterfly Garden.


  • Teach kindergarteners how to compost and begin composting snack scraps
  • Collect native seeds to increase native plantings at home and in the community
  • Share seeds and information through a free seed library in the butterfly garden

The Process

The kindergarteners started by building off last year’s project by learning how to compost their snack food scraps. They practiced this throughout the school year by composting food scraps and napkins during their snack time. This project focuses on the reduction of food waste by teaching students about food scraps and composting at an early age.

In the fall of 2022, the kindergarteners collected seeds from native plants in the butterfly garden, made special envelopes for the seeds, and brought seeds home to share with their families in the spring of 2023. 

The Daisy Girl Scout troop in 1st grade constructed a free seed library to share more seeds and educational material with the community so everyone can learn how to compost, reduce waste, and complete the loop. The seed library was made possible through the Illinois Green Alliance mini-grant, which paid for the materials including wood, a clear window, hardware, and paint.  The seed library is now a beautiful addition to the Pleasantdale Butterfly Garden.

Kara Mulder

Teacher, Pleasantdale Elementary

“We have 92 new composters at our school, who will carry this skill with them at home and as they grow.”

Looking forward

The faculty’s long-term goal is to bring recycling to the entire school. There are currently two grade levels that have learned how to compost through the Illinois Green Alliance Green Schools program, and teachers hope to expand these lessons to all classes.