Mobilize Your Neighbors for Waste Reduction

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Makenna O’Meara, Master Composter/Soil Builder, speaking at the Westcrest Doggiefest.

Looking for ways to get more involved and interested in teaching your neighbors to conserve resources? Find out how one Master Composter / Soil Builder was able to mobilize her fellow dog owners to help improve water quality and reduce waste going to the landfill – then apply to become a Master Composter / Soil Builder in your own community!

In 2013, future Master Composter / Soil Builder Makenna O’Meara (Class of 2015) began visiting Westcrest Off Leash Area with her dog Milo. Upon discovering a pool of cloudy standing water nearly two feet deep, Makenna struck up a conversation with other visitors who shared her concerns about safety and public health and started to think about solutions.

Spearheading the project, Makenna scheduled a formal walk-through with volunteer park stewards to gather information on pooling and erosion. This information was sent to Seattle Parks, who strongly supported the effort to improve the dog park, and Citizens for Off-Leash Areas was brought on board as the fiscal sponsor. Environmentally sound strategies for improving drainage and reducing erosion were defined the following February — the sustainable dog park initiative was underway!

IMG_5591In October 2015, the initiative was awarded $7,500 through a King County Green Grant to survey public interest in the environmental issues facing the park, research the costs associated with resolving runoff, and host a public event to share the findings.

During this process, Makenna completed the Master Composter / Soil Builder training to learned more about water quality and erosion. Additionally, she was interested in the possibility of composting dog waste to decrease the amount of waste going to the landfill. Each Master Composter/Soil Builder participates in 28 hours of classroom learning (including field trips) followed by 35 hours of volunteer outreach, which could include projects such as giving composting classes at schools and civic associations, helping schools and community gardens set up a compost system and staffing compost information tables at community events.

Since the dog park project dovetailed so nicely with the program, she decided to incorporate the Westcrest Off Leash Area project into the community outreach she committed to as part of her Master Composter / Soil Builder training.

By spring of 2015, all the grant objectives were completed but one: it was time to plan an event to celebrate the project’s success and present ideas for the future!

On July 18th, Makenna and two other Master Composter / Soil Builders joined forces with Seattle Parks, RainWise, PetPros, Seattle Animal Shelter and Citizens for Off-Leash Areas to throw a West Seattle dog party extravaganza, with a resource conservation twist. Westcrest Doggiefest welcomed over 350 people and their pup companions for a day of talent shows, raffles and free prizes.

Master Composter / Soil Builders Kelsey Smith and Ellie Cohan tabled a booth to engage visitors on the environmental significance of the park, as well as  demonstrate an at home dog waste compost system called the Doggie Dooley.

IMG_5502The other booths were full of great information and community resources, too. RainWise came out to help residents find information on the rebates available to those who use runoff mitigation techniques on their property. Seattle Animal Shelter provided discounted licensing and PetPros brought boxes of giveaways.

With nearly $5,000 worth of additional prizes, talented pups showing off their skills during events throughout the day and a wealth of wonderful volunteers, Westcrest Doggiefest was a celebration to remember!

Get Involved!

Interested in becoming a Master Composter and doing similar work in your community? Apply online! We have three master composting and recycling education programs, depending on where you live:

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