YEP! Youth using the cider press, building a chicken coop, making stamps with apples, and learning about gardening

Youth Education Program in Sustainability

At MUD, we believe that learning about sustainability shouldn’t just be for adults, so we created the Youth Education Program in Sustainability (YEP!). Our YEP! programs focus on school-based education that requires fewer resources than summer camps, yet provide learning to greater numbers of students. Teachers, after-school groups and other youth education programs frequently visit our site to volunteer and for lessons in resource sharing, papermaking, composting, gardening, alternative energy, and cider pressing throughout the year.

Experienced educators review MUD’s YEP! program annually, ensuring that the activities are engaging and that the lesson plans are standards-based, as well as helping us create simple scheduling and financial support for busing students to the MUD site.

[wptab name=’Overview’]

YEP! Mission

MUD’s Youth Education Program in Sustainability educates Missoula-area students through fun, community-based sustainable living experiences, fostering an appreciation of these ideals and practices at an early age.

YEP! Objectives

    • Provide students and educators opportunities to build lasting awareness and understanding of community-based sustainable lifestyle choices.
    • Use and make available sustainable living education materials that can be implemented in Missoula and beyond.
    • Foster a commitment to the principle that our use of natural resources must be sustainable, both for ourselves and for future generations.
    • Enable students to live in a sustainable manner, now and throughout their lives.

YEP! Modules

Talking Trash Backyard Ecology Energy Options Recycled Rhythms
Waste management, recycling and reusing Backyard plants and animals/ Native Plants Energy production, alternatives and tips Making music with recyclable materials
  • Decomposition Timeline (K-12)
  • Trash Games (K-5)
  • Trash Tales (K-5)
  • Trash Monitoring (K-12)
  • Recycled Papermaking (K-12)
  • Problem/Solutions (3-12)
  • MUD Site Tour (K-12)
  • Garden Plants & Soil (K-12)
  • Rain Barrel Math (5-12)
  • Chicken Chat (K-12)
  • Native Plant ID (3-12)
  • Montana Energy Sources
  • Energy’s Journey
  • Pros and Cons
  • Energy Saving Pictionary
  • Conservation Contract
  • Wind Energy Pinwheel  

*Designed for grades 4-12

  • Decomposition Timeline
  • Recycled Instruments
  • Composition Cards
  • Tuned Glass Jars

*Designed for all ages

Additional Activity: Recycled Crafts (requires additional materials) Note: Involves field trip to MUD site; some components of lesson can be offered in classrooms Additional Activity: Pizza Box Solar Cookers (pizza boxes not included)  

Printable version of YEP! Overview.


[wptab name=’Schedule a Program’]

YEP! Scheduling Process

All YEP! programs are offered free of charge to Missoula-area education groups. Our objective is to provide lessons that compliment and enhance classroom curriculum offered by Missoula-area educators.

YEP! Offers three types of activities:

  1. In-Class Activities:
    • Divided into Educational Trunks
    • Trunks can be checked out by teachers for their in-class lesson planning.
    • Current trunks include Recycled Rhythms, Talking Trash, and Energy Options.
    • See the Education Trunks tab above for more information on our curriculum!
  2. Backyard Ecology:
    • MUD Backyard Tour, presented by MUD staff at MUD Northside location (629 Phillips St.)
    • Select activities and site tours are also available at the MUD Central location (1527 Wyoming St.) or at your location upon request.
    • Offered April-October
    • Select activities from our Education Trunks can be added to the Backyard Ecology Curriculum if desired (e.g. – solar cookers and recycled paper-making)
    • Download and print our full Backyard Ecology Curriculum
  3. Service Projects:
    • A great hands-on option, especially for older youth. Contact MUD to inquire about appropriate service projects for your group.

Schedule a YEP! Program or Field Trip

Please call the MUD Central Office at (406)721-7513 or email if you’re interested in scheduling a trunk or a field trip.



[wptab name=’Education Trunks’]

Sustainability Education Trunks

Sustainability Education Trunks are a great way to “unpack” a sustainability lesson right in your classroom. We’ve got all the tools you need, as well as handouts, instructions, and lesson plans to go with the activities. You can even have our YEP! Instructor present the trunk in your classroom. Check out our current trunks below!

YEP! Kids having fun at MUD North

Energy Options

Talk to your students about renewable vs. nonrenewable energy sources, where our energy comes from, what it does to our environment, and ways to conserve it! Topics and activities include:

    • Energy sources in Montana and their journey from ground to home
    • Energy Saving Pictionary
    • Make Your Own Conservation Contract
    • Build a Pizza Box Solar Cooker (pizza boxes not included) – Download Instructions for Solar Cooker
    • Make a Wind Energy Pinwheel

Download the Energy Options Lesson Plan


YEP! participant making paper

Talking Trash

Teach your students about decomposition, recycling, and composting in a lesson that uses trash to talk about sustainability! Topics and activities include:

    • Papermaking supplies (directions, screens, blenders, cookie cutters, spatulas, trays, paper & scissors)
    • Decomposition timeline (directions, various bits of trash and compostable materials, timeline cards)
    • Garbage Games(directions)
    • Trash Monitoring (directions, worksheet, scale)
    • Trash Tales (books/book list, discussion points)
    • Additional Activity: Have your group bring extra Tshirts and learn how to make a no-sew Tshirt bag! – Download Instructions for No-Sew Recycled T-Shirt Bag

Download the Talking Trash Lesson Plan


MUD YEP! Instructor teaching Recycled Rhythms

Recycled Rhythms

The Recycled Rhythms trunk provides a great way to teach sustainability through music. Download the Recycled Rhythms teaching materials below to use in your classroom: Recycled Rhythms Teacher Handout

Download the Recycled Rhythms Lesson Plan


YEP! participant with MUD chicken

Chicken Chat

Let us bring you a chicken! Transported in our state-of-the-art Chicken Chook Wagon, we can bring one of our lovely Dominique hens to your school or after school group, talk to your students about chicken etiquette, read them a chicken tale, and even squeeze in some chicken petting/feeding!

The Check-Out Process

Trunks are available to check-out from the MUD office or Tool Library. As an educator, you have several opportunities to bring the YEP! curriculum to your classroom free of charge:

    • Check out the Talking Trash or Recycled Rhythms trunks from MUD by calling (406)721-7513 or emailing  Call in advance to reserve the trunk, then use it in your classroom as needed!

Site Visits & YEP! Instructor Visits

See our Scheduling Process tab (above) to arrange a site visit for Backyard Ecology or any of our other activities.