The Swamp Kids

Kids today just watch television and make trouble, right? Wrong. Consider the swamp Kids, 12 sixth and seventh graders in Franklin County, Georgia, USA. “Swamp” stands for Solid Waste Management Plan, which is what these kids wrote and delivered to their county government! Implementation of their 756-page plan has extended the life of Franklin County’s dump by at least 20 years.

It all started when the kids brainstormed ways they could help lighten the loads of trash going into the dump. They could do recycling projects in their town, and an educational campaign on using less and re-using what people already had. But State law said every county must have a plan for dealing with its solid wastes; Franklin was months away from a $10,000-a-day fine for having no plan.

The kids decided they could write the needed plan. Presenting their case to startled officials, they proved they already knew more than anybody around about waste management—they’d done plenty of homework. They got a green light and set to work.

As they got deeper and deeper into Franklin’s trash, the kids challenged the county’s data on how much waste was being generated. They countered a plan to close the dump and pay high fees to truck wastes out of the county, proving that wise use of the landfill would keep it going—their plan reduced intake at the site by 25%.

Repeatedly, the kids were greeted with something less than enthusiasm when they came up with information and ideas that conflicted with those of adults. But today, Franklin County can thank 12 of its kids for saving not only the dump and the $10,000-a-day fine, but also the mega-dollars that a consulting firm would have charged to write the highly-praised plan.