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Eagle Scout project brings colorful recycling bins to Tomah High School

Eagle Scout project brings colorful recycling bins to Tomah High School


Sam Burbach’s Eagle Scout project didn’t get finished before the unexpected termination of the 2019-20 school year.

But his work will be impossible to miss when classes resume.

When Tomah High School students return, they’ll be greeted by five colorful bins that will help sort trash and recycling at the high school. The bins represent Burbach’s Eagle Scout project for Boys Scouts of America, Troop 5.

Burbach, a senior, worked on them for a year and was prepared to deliver them two months before school ended, but the COVID-19 pandemic triggered the closure of all public and private schools in Wisconsin March 18.

He is confident the bins will fill a need when the high school reopens.

“There isn’t a whole of recycling going on there,” Burbach said. “There’s nothing in the hallways except for a few plastic-only containers.”

An important part of the project was making the bins visible and attractive, and that’s where the high school’s art department stepped up. The bins feature logos from Tomah High School, the Wisconsin Badgers and other colorful images.

“The art students who painted the bins did a great job,” he said. “There’s only so much wall space in the school, and this gives them a chance to show their art in a different manner.”

Dave Stutzman, director of buildings, grounds and energy for the Tomah Area School District, likes the fact that the artwork of the bins is “themed.” The one with books will be placed near the library, another with cows will be placed in the technical education area, and one with music will be placed near the music/theater rooms.

“They’re dispersed all over the building,” Stutzman said. “They’re designed so it’s hard not to know what they’re for. I expect it will be a pretty successful campaign.”

Burbach said the artwork will draw eyeballs and, hopefully, recyclables.

“Students are environmentally aware,” he said. “When something like this is available, they’ll use those options.”

The bins are framed with wood planks and lined with HDP paneling. Burbach said the material is “ideal for a building like this because it’s water-resistant and odor-resistant.” There will be separate bins for paper and plastic.

“I did a little research and talked to the people at Modern Disposal,” Burbach said. “It’s less work for their people down the line.”

Burbach, and son of Jonathon and Bridget Burbach, has been a Boy Scout since first grade. He said scouting has been a valuable part of his life.

“It has given me a lot of leadership skills,” he said. “It’s not all about tying knots and camping. It’s about preparing you for life.”

Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at


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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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