Eco-Hero Finalist: Meet Ashley Martinez

MIAMI – All this week, we’ve been introducing you to our Eco-Hero finalists -- kids who are already making a difference in their schools and communities.

One of these middle schoolers will be named our 2022 Eco-Hero and will be traveling through wild Florida -- helping us make a primetime special about our journey.

On Wednesday, we take you to Miami.

At landfills across the country, paper makes up more than 40 percent of the waste, but in Miami, at the AcadeMir Charter Middle School, there’s a different plan.

Here, members of the “Dream in Green” club turn paper into soil.

Front and center in this innovative recycling project is 12-year-old Ashley Martinez, who likes to get her hands dirty.

“I really do like gardening and I like nature in general,” said Martinez. “I like how animals have a certain taste in different kinds of plants.”

Martinez helped set up this recycling program that converts paper into compost, which is then used in the school’s garden.

Ashley lovingly tends to the “Three Sisters” of farming, squash, beans and corn, but her green thumb doesn’t stop there.

“We have rosemary, we have buttonwood, oak tree, we have berries, lemongrass, we have mint and we have a lot of aloe veras,” said Martinez.

And it all starts here with the decomposing wastepaper.

“We shred all the paper and we put them in the blue drum and as it rains and we put water in it and we mix it so it turns slowly as time goes by black to match the soil,” she said.

The result is easy to see.

The veggies thrive in the now fertile soil with added compost.

Back in the classroom, Ashley has her eye on a new recycling project, one that involves repurposing certain plastics in the school--proof you are never too young to get involved.

“Anybody can make a difference,”said Ashley. “It doesn’t matter what age or grade level you are in or what you are good at--if you like helping the community--amazing, gorgeous.”

Ashley has that same enthusiasm about experiencing the Everglades and animal corridor if she is our next Eco-Hero.

“What isn’t fun in learning about plants and Florida’s wildlife that it has here is Florida is a little wild,” said Martinez.

Ashley Martinez from AcadeMir Charter Middle School is our third Eco-Hero finalist.

We will introduce you to two more students and then starting Friday night, you can vote for the student you think should be our Eco-Hero on

About the Author:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.