Meet the High School Students Running a Recycling Business

The Daily Yonder: Keep It Rural

It’s nice that big problems can have really useful solutions. In Cañon City, Colorado, they’re getting students the experience they need for future jobs while promoting the practice of reducing, reusing/repurposing, and recycling. Aligning with the high school’s mascot, they call it Tiger Recycling. 

Tiger Recycling is where teacher and volleyball coach Ken Cline meets regularly with students to disassemble and recycle electronics. 

Sure, they have all the traditional offerings for academic endeavors, but they’ve turned this one shop class into a business.

Some might even be so bold to say it’s an inspiration. 

Imagine a shop class that makes money. I can’t fathom anyone paying for the shelf I made in Mr. Goulette’s Woodworking in 1987, but this is a different time with completely different assignments. Finding a place that will responsibly end the life of your VCR is the new gold. 

If you’re in the area, or are amped for a road trip, simply call ahead to confirm your time before dropping off your unwanted electronics (please no refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners.) Cañon City students will disembowel the beast and recycle what they can through their approved vendors. 

Like any other classroom, the kids are learning, but unlike some classrooms, they're super into it.

The students of Tiger Recycling learn about tools, technology, shop safety and teamwork, but they also get a regular dose of business. These students are answering phones and learning day-to-day administration; they’re coming up with marketing ideas to share what they’re doing. And they’ve discovered that if they don’t do the work required by their recycling vendors, then the class doesn’t make money. Without money, they can’t buy the tools they need. 

The lessons are many from the mostly nondescript building behind the main building of Cañon City High School. Maybe the most important is the one that Tiger Recycling teaches us: there is a canyon between what we're doing and what we need to do. The kids at Tiger recycling are here to show you how to build that bridge.

This article first appeared on The Daily Yonder and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.DY wordmark favicon