SENECA — Casella Waste Systems, operator of the Ontario County Landfill, has won praise for its student tours from the National Waste & Recycling Association.

Casella was also cited for offering college scholarships to students interested in pursuing engineering, agriculture or environmental studies majors that could lead to a career in the waste management industry.

Casella Regional Engineer Jerry Leone assists in organizing the tours for students from first grade to college.

“We can’t do enough. Education for students and consumers about the industry is desperately needed,’’ he said.

NWRA National Safety Director Anthony Hargis said the free tours allow students to learn about diversion, recycling and landfills.

Leone noted that many see waste as an invisible industry in which garbage haulers “magically allow for the trash to disappear on garbage day.’’

But he said by exposing the daily operations of the landfill to non-industry people, especially at a young age, Casella and other companies that offer tours are “allowing curiosity to flourish and building a sense of place and purpose for the industry within society.”

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