Back to School with Bluegrass Greensource

By: Danny Woolums, Environmental Educator, Bluegrass Greensource 

Every year, Bluegrass Greensource educators spend August and September meeting with teachers throughout our 20-county service region. This year is no exception, as we bring back some of our most popular programs and meet with many, new, and exciting educators.

Greensource educators work hard to help Central Kentuckians understand the impacts of solid waste on our environment, while finding ways to reduce our use of resources. For schools in Anderson, Fayette, Franklin, and Shelby counties, BGGS is available to teach students the dos and don’ts of recycling. Special thanks to the City of Lexington, Republic Services, and Waste Haulers of the Bluegrass for providing these opportunities to the students they serve!

New this year is an exciting project focusing on the West Hickman Creek watershed in Fayette County. Bluegrass Greensource is working with community partners to “formulate a plan for increased watershed outreach, engagement and water quality improvement efforts in the West Hickman Creek Watershed.” To find a way to get involved on behalf of your school, check out Live Green Lexington’s events page on Facebook!

If you’re looking for general classroom water education, we have lessons discussing erosion, earth’s features, human-impact, adaptations, and more. We look closely to the NGSS to make sure our science experiences are as relevant as you need them!

Thanks to funding by Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Kentucky (TMMK) and the Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence (DEDI), Central Kentucky students get an opportunity to learn about energy transformations, engineering practices, and societal impacts of our energy use! If you’re looking for a great way to teach your students, make sure to give us a call!

Did you know that a cigarette butt can take 10 years to break down when flicked out of a car window? Did you know that animals sometimes ingest plastic bags thinking that they are prey? If you didn’t, you’re not alone! Many of the city and county governments in our region offer education through Bluegrass Greensource on reducing impacts of litter on our local waterways and environment! From stormdrain stenciling to tabletop models, we are ready to engage your classroom in conservation efforts!

If you’re interested in having one of our educators visit your classroom, give us a call or send an email to to connect to our passionate team!


Welcome, Noel!

Welcome, Noel!

We are thrilled to welcome Noel Osborn to the Bluegrass Greensource team as our new Outreach Specialist! She will be working with adults throughout Fayette County and our service area to provide resources and education to promote sustainability at home and work. Noel will also work closely with the City of Lexington’s GreenCheck program. Click here to reach her by email!

Noel comes to Bluegrass Greensource with a background in politics, with experience in the Kentucky General Assembly and in Washington D.C. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Kentucky. Noel chose to focus her career on environmental issues and enjoys educating people on the many ways they can make minor changes to create a big impact. She also enjoys hunting for 1970’s vinyl and watching old episodes of Saturday Night Live. 



Outreach Spotlight: Cultural Orientation with Kentucky Refugee Ministries

RobBy: Rob Gates
Outreach Specialist
Bluegrass Greensource

For refugees making the arduous journey to the United States, learning to deal with constant change becomes an imperative skill. While arriving at their final destination might signal the end of one particular journey, it brings a brand new set of unique changes. During this adjustment period, every day presents new challenges, which we often take for granted, such as paying rent and utilities, navigating transportation systems, and even dealing with a new weather climate. These challenges are further exacerbated by language and cultural barriers making the transition all the more daunting. Thankfully, local nonprofit organization, Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) has made it their mission to assist refugees in navigating these challenges and provide the resources they need to adapt to their new home in the Bluegrass.

One of the most valuable resources KRM offers are weekly Cultural Orientation courses to support refugees in their transition to the United States. KRM Partners with local organizations to present a wide range of topics ranging from housing, banking and finances, fire safety, and even using the library. On Friday, April 14th Bluegrass Greensource received the unique opportunity to present at the weekly Cultural Orientation class regarding environmental issues within Lexington and Fayette County.

During the orientation, I presented to a group of 25 individuals representing Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Participants learned about the importance of energy efficiency and simple tips and improvements that can help increase home energy efficiency and comfort while saving money on utility bills. The group then learned about the recycling process in Lexington through an interactive sorting game where they raced against the clock to divide materials into recyclables and landfill bound waste. The presentation concluded with a lesson on how to properly store and dispose of Fats, Oils, and Grease (F.O.G.) materials to protect sanitary sewers and local water quality. Afterwards, the group took part in a recap quiz with prizes such as LED light bulbs, weather stripping, and caulk guns that they could utilize to increase efficiency and save money in their own homes.

Throughout the presentation, interpreters for each group translated the materials in real time, making for a unique and engaging learning environment for everyone involved. This invaluable resource (from KRM language volunteers) made it possible to reach an entirely new subset of the Lexington/Fayette County population that was previously inaccessible due to language barriers. This was a unique opportunity for Bluegrass Greensource to share the importance of environmental literacy and reinforce the message that small changes can lead to big impacts for our local environment and the world as a whole. 


Thank You for Supporting Environmental Education During Earth Month!

By: Chris Porter
Bluegrass Greensource
Development Director

April was Earth Month, and it was wonderful to see all of the many Central Kentuckians who came out to improve their local environments before, on, or just after Earth Day. Whether through Main Street Clean Sweep, Arbor Day, Reforest the Bluegrass, or other efforts, it’s always inspiring to see so many in the Bluegrass getting involved.

Two fundraising events also took place during Earth Month – Kentucky Gives Day and Charity of the Month for Don Jacobs (link to site?) – that saw Central Kentuckians showing their support for a sustainable local environment. All funds received through these April events will go directly to supporting Greensource’s work to educate and connect residents with the resources necessary to make a positive change in their local environment. In 2016, we had more than 108,000 contacts with Central Kentucky adults and youth, and we worked directly in more than 4,000 classrooms. Thank you to everyone who made a gift to Bluegrass Greensource or who supported our work through a litter clean up or other community activity!

Forgot to make a gift in April? No worries –click here to show your support for environmental education and outreach today!


The Results are in! Main Street Clean Sweep 2017

AshleyBy Ashley Bryant Cheney
Environmental Educator
Bluegrass Greensource

From Friday April 14th to Saturday April 29th, over 1,000 volunteers came together around Earth Day to participate in 20 community-led litter pick-ups throughout Central Kentucky.  Event participants received t-shirts, gloves, trash bags, and litter grabbers, and took to their downtown storefronts, roadsides, parks and other public spaces to help beautify their community and protect local water quality. Through these community efforts, volunteers throughout the Commonwealth collected approximately 5 tons of trash this year! WOW!

This year’s event was made possible, in part, by our generous sponsors from PNC Bank, Valvoline, Stites & Harbison, and WUKY.


Caching the Rain in Castlewood Park

RobBy: Rob Gates
Outreach Specialist
Bluegrass Greensource

Visitors to Castlewood Park in Lexington’s North End might be surprised to find some interesting new additions to the park’s landscape. Since 2015, as part of The City of Lexington’s Stormwater Incentive Grant Program, the park had received a number of exciting upgrades to help improve stormwater quality within the park and in the surrounding community. 

On April 29th, 2017 Bluegrass Greensource held a special event in conjunction with the international geocaching community’s Cache In Trash Out® (CITO) environmental initiative to help clean the park and highlight its many stormwater features. Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location. Since 2002, CITO has helped preserve the natural beauty of cache-friendly spaces. In that time, more than 240,000 people have volunteered at 11,000 CITO events. At Castlewood Park, 25 volunteers collected over 120 lbs of litter while learning about the importance of the park’s many stormwater features in the process.

In addition to picking up litter, attendees also participated in a “Stormwater Scavenger Hunt” where they were able to get a firsthand look at many of the park’s unique stormwater features. Participants used a special map to navigate to 12 different stormwater features located throughout the park. Each location contained information explaining the purpose and importance of each feature as well as a clue to a stormwater related puzzle. Upon finishing the puzzle, participants were entered in a drawing for a limited edition Cane Run Watershed print from Cricket Press. 

Among the upgrades on display were multiple rain gardens that utilize soils and native Kentucky plants to slow stormwater runoff and remove contaminants through natural processes.  The scavenger hunt also featured an edible orchard and Kentucky Oak Savannah landscape that help prevent erosion, provide surface area for rain to evaporate, and create shade and natural habitat for multiple species. Along the way, participants learned about the importance of proper pet waste disposal, best management practices in construction projects, and educational efforts to keep protect storm drains.

Thanks to funding from the City’s Stormwater Incentive Grant Program North Lime Community Development Corporation will continue efforts to improve stormwater quality in future projects and initiatives with assistance from local organizations including Ecogro, Bluegrass Greensource,Town Branch Tree Experts, Seedleaf, Bullhorn Creative, and the Castlewood and North Limestone Neighborhood Associations.


Setting Records in Sustainability: School Recognition Ceremony 2017

PattieBy: Pattie Stivender,
Education Director

On April 27, students and teachers from across Fayette County came together to celebrate green initiatives in Fayette County Schools.   The partner recognition ceremony, held at Garrett Morgan Elementary, awarded seventy two public and private schools for their efforts in sustainability.

Garret Morgan, one of Lexington’s newest elementary schools, has focused on sustainability from day one.  Staff quickly set up a school recycling program and raised funds to purchase classroom recycling bins.  Their energy team monitors energy consumption throughout the school as a part of FCPS E=USE2.


Lexington schools were recognized for their outstanding efforts in recycling and waste reduction, water quality education, litter abatement initiatives, and energy conservation education as part of the LiveGreenLexington School Partner Program.  This program is funded by LFUCG and managed by Bluegrass Greensource.

Schools also received recognition for their participation in Fayette County Public Schools’ Education leads to Understanding Sustainability, Energy and the Environment program (E=USE). 

Andrea Marcum of Arlington Elementary was named as Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Arlington participated in the Recycle Challenge and improved their district’s recycling rate by over 45%! Ms. Marcum wrote a musical and her students made instruments from recyclable material to promote the challenge.

Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council was named Environmental Stewards of the year.  The council is comprised of high school students from public and private schools across Fayette County.  Students work collaboratively on projects in all areas of sustainability including energy management, outdoor classrooms, waste management, water quality and air quality.



Providence Montessori Middle was selected as Volunteers of the Year.  Students from Providence visited Bluegrass Greensource’ office monthly to perform tasks that assisted in environmental outreach.  They cheerfully performed each task assigned to them whether it was helping educators prepare materials for classroom activities, cleaning, or organizing.

Refreshments were provided in part by Bryan Station High School’s culinary arts class who produced a refreshing vanilla confetti cake with strawberry yogurt frosting.  Floral arrangements were provided by Locust Trace AgriScience Center.  School awards and table decorations were made from upcycled vinyl records donated by Habitat for Humanity Restore.

The program featured student made videos. SCAPA students showed how to improve water quality with their video on non point source pollution and best management practices. Cardinal Valley Elementary, focused on coal and energy conservation, and Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council showed us their goals with the video Where We’re Going.

Bluegrass Greensource would like to thank Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, teachers, and students for their support of this school partner program.


VISTA Americorps: Event Support

Bluegrass Greensource is seeking a full time VISTA Volunteer to plan events with environmental themes. Previous experience in promotion and event planning is preferred. Email resume, letter of interest and contact information for three references to
Click here for the full job description.

This VISTA opportunity is offered through the Plantory, with Bluegrass Greensource as the host site. Click here for information specific to this VISTA program, including compensation, hour requirement, and benefits.
For more information about the VISTA program in general, please visit vista.

Applications will be accepted through May 10th or until position is filled. The position will officially start in August 2017. EOE. 


Outreach Specialist

Bluegrass Greensource is looking for a highly motivated candidate to work with adult environmental education and outreach in Central Kentucky. Much of the work will be with Lexington businesses and neighborhood groups, but will also work with organizations and local governments throughout the 20 county Bluegrass Greensource service area.

Click here for the full job description.

Interested applicants should email a letter of interest, resume, and contact information for three references as well as salary requirements to Please be sure to mention Outreach Specialist in the subject line. Applications will be accepted until May 15th or until a suitable candidate has been identified.


Kentucky Energy Education: a Field Trip to Harlan County

PattieBy: Pattie Stivender,
Education Director

On March 23rd and 24th, Bluegrass Greensource took 50 students and 25 adults to Harlan County to learn about Kentucky coal mining. Students from six counties in Central Kentucky learned about the history of coal mining and what the expectations are for the immediate future. This field trip was the culmination of 6 months of classroom activities and meetings about energy resources and energy in Kentucky.

On the first day of the trip Students attended tours of Portal No. 31 and the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum to learn about the history of mining. Portal No. 31 Underground Mine Tour in Lynch offered us the unique experience of touring an actual coal mine by rail car. The ride included animated exhibits that narrated the history of coal mining in Harlan County.

Lynch was the largest coal company-owned town in Kentucky through World War II. Lynch and Portal 31 were established by the U.S. Coal and Coke Company, a subsidiary of the United States Steel Company, in 1917. Lynch was considered one of the model coal camps in Appalachia because of its quality health care, education, housing, social services, wages, benefits, and recreation. The more than one thousand buildings in Lynch provided housing for the miners that flocked to Harlan County to work at the coal camp.  

The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum, located in the former coal camp town of Benham, offered students the opportunity to experience the conditions ofmining in their mock coal mine. The guides were knowledgeable about all aspects of mining and patiently answered student questions.Benham was originally occupied by farming families. International Harvester purchased the area in the early 1900’s for its rich coal seams; then mining began. The museum building was the second building built by the company to house a company commissary. The first one, built on the same site, was a wooden structure destroyed by fire in the mid-teen’s. The concrete and masonry structure replaced the burned building in 1923.

The building was purchased in June 1990 by the Tri-City Chamber of Commerce for the future site of the museum. The Kentucky Coal Mining Museum offers a complete picture of the lives that revolved around the coal industry.

The second day of our trip was spent with the Kentucky Junior Coal Academy in Harlan. The Junior Coal Academy is part of a coal training initiative that offers extensive miner training programs at Kentucky Community and Technical College System (KCTCS). Students were given the challenge to make their way through the smoke trailer mobile training unit using a cable and cone system. They were also shown the simulators used to teach about coal mining and visited a mock mine. 

As interesting as these activities were, the highlight of the trip was our overnight stay at Benham Schoolhouse Inn. In 1926, Wisconsin Steel built a state of the art all-grades school for the children of the Benham. In 1961, the last high school class was graduated from the school, which continued to serve as the local elementary until 1992. Today the school is a charming inn.  

While at the Inn, we were treated to a delicious catered dinner, a dance party, and a movie in the gym. Students and teachers are now preparing presentations about their KEY experiences that will be shared with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students in their schools. Thank you to all of our teachers and students who made this trip so enjoyable!

Bluegrass Greensource would like to thank the Department for Energy Development and Independence for providing funds for the Kentucky Energy for Youth program.

Students at Deep Springs Elementary told us about their favorite activities:

My experience at Portal 31 was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  It included the most amazing effects in the portal.  Also I liked how it included two of my favorite things; rail rides and back in the day times. I learned a lot more about coal mines from this trip.  Like how there were life lines, and they had to crouch down to mine. I’m so thankful I got to go on this amazing experience.  Thank you!

The Kentucky Coal Academy was my favorite part of the trip because I had a great time in the simulation. And the gifts, such as a squishy coal lump and a keychain miner’s hat that lights up.

I am very thankful for the field trip being funded. I liked when we were in Portal 31.  I experienced that it was very hard for coal miners to work in the mountains. DEDI KEY field trip was very fun.

I liked Portal 31.  I experienced a time before machines were made and why mining was a thing and why they started mining Black Mountain.

Teachers enjoyed the trip as well:

Portal 31 was by far the most beneficial stop.  It had the biggest impact on my students as to the history of coal and the finite supply we have.  What fun the Benham Schoolhouse Inn was.  The playground was a blast from the past!  My students had a grand time at the inn.  This was the EASIEST field trip I’ve ever been on with students.  Well done!
– Vivian Bowles, Kit Carson Elementary

We loved this trip!  I was honestly surprised at how informative and fun it was.   Playground break time was a huge plus.  Thank you so much for all your hard work organizing this for us.
– Stephanie Sawyer, Western Elementary

I’m glad we had the opportunity to attend this trip.  I know it was something my students would never get to experience if they didn’t get to go on this trip. I am thankful for the grant.
– Adonya Boyle, Cardinal Valley Elementary