New water stations flowing at Scarselli Elementary |

New water stations flowing at Scarselli Elementary

Amy Roby
Scarselli Elementary students Kayla Rogers, Southern Cleeves, Cody Heffelfinger, Allie and Charlie Garrison with the new hydration station at the Gardnerville Ranchos school.

The increasing amount of plastic pollution across the globe is of utmost concern when considering its negative impact on Earth’s environment. In spite of being durable and convenient, plastic is not a biodegradable material and a majority of it ends up in landfills, waterways, and oceans instead of being recycled. Every year, millions of tons of plastics are discarded in the United States alone.

Recently, one local elementary school community banded together in an innovative way to help reduce their collective plastic footprint (a measurement of how the amount of plastic an individual uses adds to the global garbage pile).

Last fall, Scarselli Elementary School received 400 reusable water bottles from the Carson Valley Starbucks Distribution Center. Starbucks Director of Distribution Todd McCullough arranged the donation.

Scarselli school nurse Becky Johnston was inspired by the gift and saw it as a way to encourage water intake amongst the students without contributing to single-use plastic waste. To help promote use of the bottles, she and first-grade teacher Nancy McCullough began to research the possibility of installing a filtered-water bottle filling station/drinking fountain.

The cost of a unit was prohibitive, so the school decided to pursue a fundraising campaign. Students were sent home with a water bottle and a note explaining the idea behind the water station. Generous donations from SES families poured in, and the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization arranged to cover the remaining purchase cost.

McCullough’s husband, Scott, is a project manager with Douglas County. He, along with representatives from Reno-based Core Construction, worked in tandem to facilitate the station’s installation. Core Construction took things a step further and donated a second water filling station to the school.

“We are so grateful for the generosity of our Scarselli families, our local Starbucks plant, and Core Construction,” Nancy McCullough said. “Our principal, Susan McNeall, was supportive and encouraging throughout the whole process. Not only are we reducing our use of plastics by using reusable bottles; the staff and students are also benefitting from the health advantages of drinking filtrated water.”

Construction was completed over the autumn break, and staff and students have put both stations to good use. Each unit has a tracking device and to date, the water stations have helped eliminate waste from more than 1,700 single-use plastic bottles.

Amy Roby can be reached at