St. Vrain Schools pay students to avoid car travel, walk or bike instead

LONGMONT, Colo. - Several elementary schools in the St. Vrain School District are rewarding students for walking or biking instead of taking the car to get around.

The district has adopted a program called "Trip Tracker" which encourages students to be more environmentally conscious by not using a car when they could find another way. Trip Tracker pays the kids a "Tracker Buck" for every four trips they make without taking a vehicle. Tracker Bucks are worth $1 at a number of local businesses who are supporting the program.

"We would reduce CO2 emissions, improve safety and get kids and staff more physically active by driving less," said the program's director, Cammie Edson. Edson adopted the program from the Boulder County School District and said it has grown substantially in the two years they've been using it.

The program doesn't just apply to kids, but their families, too. Some kids earn 12 or 13 Tracker Bucks a month. 

"They love the idea of kind of creating a greener culture at the schools and instilling those green behaviors and choices and habits," Edson said.

There are 70 businesses currently participating across Boulder County. One of the originals in the St. Vrain School District is Simply Bulk Market, which sells organic food.

"Anything that encourages walking is a key education we need to pass onto the little guys," said owner Phil Bratty. "As a business concept it really introduces younger people to what I'm trying to do here, which is eating healthier."

Businesses get 50 cents on the dollar for each Tracker Buck.

In the first year, Edson said the program saw a reduction of 17,000 miles driven in the car calculating all participants.

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