Getting the Dirt on Composting and Energy

film negative with images for children finding worms and using a thermal camera

“Don’t just tell your children about the world, show them.”

-Penny Whitehouse

The beautiful mid March weather has us in the mood to open our windows, break out the planters, and begin stirring the dirt in gardens. On Wednesday March 13th, IWRC Environmental Specialist Jason Clay visited with local Dayton, IA residents to discuss backyard composting, the important components of a successful pile, and answer any questions from participants interested in starting composting piles at their homes.

The adults weren’t the only ones to get an introduction to composting. Jason worked with a group of Dayton students a year ago and, back by popular demand, Jason met again with students attending the Dayton Public Library afterschool program to talk about energy conservation and worm composting. During their time together, they:

  • Discussed the different forms of energy that we use in our daily lives
  • Identified simple steps they can take to reduce energy use both at home and school. 
  • Used IWRC’s FLIR camera to detect thermal changes in a building’s envelope
  • Learned about some of the work IWRC conducts to help small businesses throughout Iowa.

Pulled by their curiosity, they were also excited to discover that viewing the library’s resident cold-blooded gecko through the thermal imager produced some interesting results! After exploring energy conservation, thermal imaging and the building envelope at the library, they all gathered outside to revisit the red wigglers and vermicomposting system where the students proved to be expert worm cocoon trackers! 

At the conclusion of the sessions, the students harvested a 5-gal bucket worth of nutrient-rich sifted worm castings which will be incorporated into the after school program’s spring planting projects and planters on the outside of the library.

A special thanks to Dayton Library Director Courtney Sogard for the invite to talk compost and energy conservation with Dayton residents and students!