PAOLA — Stan Slaughter dished the dirt on the importance of composting and other related recycling topics to 140 fifth-graders during a recent assembly at Sunflower Elementary in Paola.

Slaughter, an education and garden specialist with Missouri Organic Recycling, engaged students with a variety of silly songs and hard facts about composting and growing sustainable foods at the Nov. 22 assembly in the school’s gym.

“Compost is what we get when we recycle leaves, grass and other things that are no longer living,” Slaughter said. “Nature takes her time (when recycling), but people are in a hurry, so we make compost.”

Mike Hursey, owner of Casa Somerset Bed and Breakfast and founder of the Casa Somerset Sustainable Learning Center, helped set up the assembly at Sunflower Elementary. Hursey said Slaughter does a great job of both entertaining and educating students.

Slaughter said if people composted everything they could from their trash, it would prevent a lot of waste, save space in landfills, reduce the production of methane, generate a lot of compost for farms and create jobs. A chart on a big screen behind the singing educator showed yard waste accounts for about 20 percent of all trash, while food waste makes up another 16 percent.

“I thought they (students) were great,” Slaughter said after the nearly hour-long assembly. “That’s a long time for a fifth-grader, but I thought they stayed engaged.”

Billed as the Eco-Troubadour, Slaughter has strummed his guitar and sang to thousands of students in Kansas and across the region at similar educational assemblies.

“Stan has a creative way of teaching students so that they understand and want to listen,” said Michelle Haley, fifth-grade science teacher at Sunflower. “His songs were funny, gross, interesting, and full of information. My favorite line from his presentation was, ‘The soil makes your lunch and your lunch makes the soil.’”

News Editor Doug Carder can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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