Strolling of the Heifers: A learning experience for all

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BRATTLEBORO — Kristen Riley, intern with Strolling of the Heifers, is no stranger to the classroom, having taught in Boston and other places in the past.

But the six weekly sessions at the River Garden with St. Michael's Roman Catholic School third graders mark her first time developing a program of her own. She covered nutrition, discussing plant life cycles, pollination, and local and seasonal vegetables. On Monday, the class talked compost.

"What kinds of things do you throw away in your trash at home, that goes to the dump?" Riley asked students.

Answers included apple cores, plastic bags, banana peels and leftover food. Riley showed a photo of a landfill with big piles of garbage.

"It's polluting the world," said Jake Cusick, third grader. "It's like poisoning the world."

Classmate Jesse Johnson said seagulls might get something stuck in their throat.

"Recycling is important to reduce waste and composting," Riley told students.

The kids came up with a list of compostable items: waffles, pancakes, egg shells, apples, paper and cardboard trays.

"When you have kitchen scraps that you're not going to eat, like ends of carrots, that's a good place to put them," Riley said before showing a brief video of a cartoon explaining composting.

Orly Munzing, executive director for Strolling of the Heifers, said the brand new program is very successful and shows how a community can work with local schools.

Riley, of Westmoreland, N.H., said she always knew about Munzing and always wanted to work with her.

"She gets a lot accomplished and helps a lot of people, and that kitchen," Riley said, referring to the new commercial kitchen used for other Strolling of the Heifers programming in the River Garden, "It's great in there."

Riley hopes to create more local cooking classes for kids. Next week is the last session with the St. Michael's students.

Johnson said he liked the class. Classmate Elizabeth Laclaire said she enjoyed an experiment with soil the best.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.

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