Allison Andersen grew up in Valparaiso where she attended high school at Valparaiso High School. She then continued her studies at Purdue North Central where she obtained her elementary education degree.
After Allison finished schooling, she went on to be an elementary school teacher for eleven years at three different area elementary schools; Memorial Elementary School, Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, and Cooks Corners Elementary School.
Allison then switched over from the elementary teaching classroom setting to becoming the outreach educator at Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction. In her role as the outreach director, she visits schools throughout Porter County and educates students on environmental education.
“I get to go to all the schools in Porter County and talk to the kids about taking care of the earth, being better stewards to the earth, and making our community a green and sustainable place,” said Allison.
Allison has been the outreach educator at Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction for two years now. When she visits the schools, she presents a variety of different programs to students based on educational level and teacher requests.
“We have eleven different programs that I present, and it depends on whichever program the teacher orders for that grade level. We can go in and talk to the kids about vermicomposting and I will bring in real live red wiggler worms for the children to look at. We can talk about landfills and the different protective layers that are in a landfill to protect our groundwater. There is a program on renewable energy where making better choices is discussed by choosing natural resources that are renewable instead of going after the petroleum and fossil fuels and things like that.”
Not only are the programs she presents geared towards the youngsters, but there are some for adults as well.
“There are programs geared for the real little children and some that go all the way up to adult groups. We talk about ladybugs and how they are an alternative to chemicals in your garden. We have storm water pollution programs. Right now we are working on a grant regarding water quality and watersheds, so we are preparing to have a big demonstration table for the public where it models water pollutions, how it gets there, where it goes, and what we can do about it. Our main goal is to educate the public,” stated Allison.
This is something that Allison has always been passionate about because she is a very environmentally friendly person, which is why she loves educating others about being green. Her passion for the environment started from before she can even remember.
“My passion for the environment started forever ago. I have always enjoyed taking care of animals, growing things in the garden, and reusing and reducing waste. I never liked being wasteful, and I have always tried to be conscious about the choices I make so that it is more beneficial to the earth and not harmful.”
Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction also has community outreach events that occur throughout the year.
“Our office has several activities and special events throughout the year. We have reuse fair's, first day events, household waste collections, and a Halloween costume swap. We are definitely the face of the environment and recycling to students and teachers in Porter County.”
Outside of her work, Allison enjoys exercising, bike riding, walking, baking, taking care of her pets, going to church, and tutoring children.
“I am still kind of involved in the classroom setting by tutoring kids after school and helping them out with things that they are struggling with,” said Allison.
If there is one thing Allison wants people to know about being more environmentally friendly, it is knowing what can and cannot be recycled.
“A lot of people are unclear of what goes in their curbside bins and what does not. Porter County recycles numbers one, two, three, four, five and seven, but not number six. If people are more aware of what they are putting in their bins, then it is a lot more helpful along the line when it makes it to the recycling center.”
If you would like to learn more about recycling, or the events going on within the community, click here!