Youth Leadership Learns About Environment and Why Many of Us Are Uneducated About Recycling

Leon Fooksman
Leadership Palm Beach County
February 24, 2015

The Youth Leadership class learned a lot about our community’s garbage and energy issues during its Jan. 29 Environment Day.


Class member Pietro Damasceno recounts the day below.


7:45 Students arrived at Lake Lytal Park and ate a delicious breakfast from Panera Bread.

9:00 The arrival at the Solid Waste Authority was greeted by Brian, an Education Specialist that knew the ins and outs of the entire facility. He gave us a presentation of the spectacular work put into the Solid Waste Authority and all the numbers and statistics that were ultimately surprising and interesting for us students.

9:15 Brian gave us an intriguing and informative tour on bus of the entire Solid Waste Authority, explaining the amount of resources generated from burning and compacting garbage in the Renewable Facility #1. We then drove past all three landfills along with the construction site of Renewable Facility #2, which will be a state-of-the-art and model for all other Waste companies in the country.

9:30 After we got off the bus and headed inside the Renewable Facility #1, Brian brought us into a room which sat on the top-center part of the building, giving us a 180 degree view of the amazing facility. From there, we could see the transfer station, the conveyer belts, and the separators, along with the men bringing in the garbage in large trucks and piling it up on one side of the building. As the men worked away, Brian explained all the different moving parts around us, along with many objects they find in the trash every day.

9:45 We hopped back on the bus and made our way towards the Recycling facility, bypassing the Bio-solids Pelletization Plant. Arriving at the Recycling Facility, we checked in on the milk cartons and cereal boxes we used up for the past week. From the viewing room, Brian showed us the machines that compact all the recyclable material and ship them into semi trucks for use by private companies that take interest in such materials. Brian explained to us that the biggest problem the company faces is uneducated citizens on how to sort their recycled materials; how some people throw plastic bags, bicycles, and even dead animals into their SWA Recycle bins. The company spends loads of money paying employees to sort out the material into their correct areas.

11:10 After dropping off Brian at the main entrance, we continued moved onto the FPL West Energy Center, which is the largest natural gas power plant in North America, supplying power to homes all the way up the coast to Georgia. We were greeted warmly by John Carber and Thomas Bean, the Director of Public Community Engagement. John gave us an informative and detailed explanation of the energy-producing process, such as turbines, natural gas, and other electrical components. Thomas then gave us a detailed explanation of the different community and natural preservation projects that FPL produces, such as “a giant hot tub for manatees in the intracoastal,” as we enjoyed a Chic-fil-a lunch.

1:00 We jumped back on the bus and embarked on the tour of the entire power plant, from the turbines to the fuel tanks to the cooling units, intrigued by every piece of information given to us. We then left the facility to head towards the Florida Water Treatment.

1:30 Arriving at the Florida Water Treatment, we were given a brief presentation by Della Ivanoff along with a vegetation overview by Nate. After taking in all the information provided, half the group got the safety talk about operating the kayaks from Stephen and were sent out to the water to get a close-up look at the vegetation, while the second group stayed onshore and received a presentation about the water movement and management in the everglades all throughout Palm Beach County by Della.

2:45 Both groups switched places so we all were able to enjoy the kayaking along with the presentations.

3:40 After a long days’ work, we headed back to Lake Lytal park to conclude our intriguing and informative day of the management of the environment in Palm Beach County.


Learn more about the Youth Leadership program here.  And see the 2015 class’s calendar here

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