Students swap international intelligence - Among the key lessons: How Styrofoam works

Confluence State Park ranger Jose Velazquez explains to a group of Ecuadorian students how beavers have chewed the bark off a downed tree in the Horan Nature Area. The students watched Canada geese and marmots and talked about salmon and local foliage before a forum with Eastmont High School students. (World photo/Kelly Gillin)

EAST WENATCHEE — Sixteen-year-old Jenyfer Morales had never seen Styrofoam before Monday. She looked it up and down, poked it with a pencil and passed it around to her fellow Ecuadorian natives.

The Eastmont students sitting across from them had just finished explaining how the school district plans to replace their Styrofoam lunch trays with a recyclable product next year.

"What's Styrofoam?" the South American students asked.

Consumerism and waste is just beginning to reach parts of Ecuador, 18-year-old Santiago Haro explained through an interpreter.

Haro and the other 10 student activists have been working within their communities to build healthy economies while protecting the environment and their culture.

On the other side of the forum, Eastmont students are working on a few sustainability projects of their own.

A grant-funded program called 4-H Eco-Stewardship is leading students — and not just from Eastmont — on several hands-on adventures this year. Depending on the high school, students are working to find bio-controls for noxious weeds, monitoring wildlife and studying alternative energy.

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