President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) 2002 Winners
EPA Region 1
Natural Resources and Conservation
Webelos Pack 92 Eagle Patrol
Webelos Pack 92 Eagles decided to improve awareness of the importance of our natural environment through exploration, communication and taking action. Specific targets were to restore or sustain Connecticut's natural resources including watersheds and ponds, land and forest trails, and the unique habitat of Trap Rock Ridge.
Under the guidance of their Den Leader, the Webelos embarked on a comprehensive plan to learn as much as they could about their surroundings and begin to assist in improving their environment. For example, litter pick-up took place in a pond and watershed area, the litter was analyzed and it was determined that three fast food chains were primary sources of the litter. Flyers were designed, and after discussion with store management, distributed to encourage the public not to litter and to help preserve our natural environment.
Nature hikes to increase forestry knowledge and to observe bird and wildlife settings were completed. Pond "catch and release" fishing was taught via recreational fishing and swimming events. Keeping watershed areas clean to protect aquatic life was a part of each lesson learned. Birdhouses, specifically designed for chickadees, were constructed and placed in a forest adjacent to an historic trail. A pile of sand and eggshells was placed on the ground to provide grit and calcium for the birds. Rocks were heaped into a pile to also provide shelter and a cool hiding and resting space for small animals and reptiles.
One hundred native white pine seedlings were purchased from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and planted in a residential area to reclaim lawn, reducing maintenance costs. The trees also are expected to provide shelter, and eventually food (mast) to birds and small animals.
EPA Region 2
Loving My Environment
Since the age of nine, Samuel has been involved in environmental education through photography. His first project, "Are we a waste culture?" focused on illegal dump sites, recycling, and effects of marine and river debris on wildlife. Samuel's continued interest in making others aware of their environment led to an expansion of his project, including a presentation of his work at the University of Fajardo. Samuel's photos of the Indio River were recognized in several competitions, and he was selected to participate in a photo shoot with the "I Clean Puerto Rico" Campaign President and members of the Puerto Rican cabinet. His photographs are recognized as the catalyst for a regional three year environmental clean-up campaign leading to a cleaner, safer environment for area communities.
One of Samuel's most recent on-going projects involved work with the Ford Motor Company in Puerto Rico. Samuel's photographs explored the problems of used tires in Puerto Rico. He visited different dump sites to assess the used tire problem which is so prevalent in the area; he has visited nine towns to date, and captured his concerns on film. His efforts to make others aware of how neglect of the environment can detract from the local well being of the area has won Samuel numerous awards on the local and state level.
EPA Region 3
Bellwood-Antis Wetlands Education Center -- An Eagle Scout Project
Working with fellow members of Boy Scout Troop 92, Padraig installed a 250-yard path through a wetlands area managed by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The six foot wide path was cut by hand, using hand tools, and laid with eight inch deep mulch, which was donated by the Blair County Department of Solid Waste. Padraig consulted with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to learn how to minimize the effect that the path would have on the area, since surface water coming from the highway would move down through the patch of woods into the wetland plants and finally into the retention basins. Padraig and his troop installed over 50 large rocks to allow crossing where the water flow was the most active. Upon completion of the path, Padraig and his Troop fabricated and installed over 30 handmade signs along the path. The signs displayed identification information including a picture of the plant and information about its origin, invasive species status, and method of propagation. The signs were made in the high school's woodshop with wood donated by the shop teacher. Padraig gathered information from the following sources: USDA's web site on wetland plants; maps and placement from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation; on-site inspection of the area; and, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's website. He then created an educational PowerPoint presentation about the area.
The path was constructed in one of the same wetland areas where, under Padraig's direction, the Troop installed duck boxes and nests, and created a 20 x 20 foot observation deck which could be used by students from the local school district for outdoor studies and field trips. Placement of the deck was made after consultation with a wetlands specialist from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and an environmental engineer from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. The deck was placed in the center of the wetlands in the most upland part of a peninsula that separated two bodies of water during dry conditions. This would allow a uninterrupted flow of surface water and minimal impact to the surrounding plants and trees. It also provided the best possible viewing area of both the water and the surrounding woodland from a vantage point that was unobtrusive.
Visitors to the wetlands path and the observation deck will now have an opportunity to see an example of how progress and environmental stewardship can be achieved successfully through cooperation and teamwork.
EPA Region 4
The Roots and Shoots Club
In the summer of 2001, Eva Nyeres read Jane Goodall's book, Reason for Hope, which made a great impact on her understanding of the responsibility of our youth in preserving the environment. Eva decided to start an environmental club in her school called "Roots and Shoots." "Roots and Shoots" is the Jane Goodall Institute's environmental & humanitarian program founded by Jane Goodall in 1991 in Tanzania. The club was organized to teach about the effect that humans have on the environment and to promote conservation, to spread the word of peace and of cultural awareness, to raise and donate money for programs that benefit the environment, and to protect the animal community. The Danville High School "Roots and Shoots" started a recycling program, which focused on making school-wide announcements recounting the history of Earth Day and encouraging students and teachers to celebrate by utilization of their new program. "Roots and Shoots" further partnered with students and faculty at Centre College to begin their environmental projects. Because Earth Day had not been celebrated at this school, the club highlighted their Earth Day Revival events by hosting students from the Environmental Street Theatre. Together the students brought education, information and commemoration of this special day to their area of the state.
EPA Region 5
A Home for Wildlife
This project began as a life science project to compare the frogs found in a local pond with those of the area, and in the state of Michigan; however, the project evolved into the development of an interest in backyard Wildlife Habitats through independent research and courses through the county 4-H extension office. After researching the known species of amphibians in Michigan, Nicholas contacted local organizations such as the National Wildlife Federation, Frog Watch, USA, Michigan Herp Atlas Project, Seven Ponds Nature Center, Project Feeder Watch (through Cornell Lab of Orinithology), Dr. James Harding of Michigan State University and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to expand his knowledge of not only frogs, but the ponds in which they live, as well as the areas surrounding the ponds. As a result of this interest, along with furthering the study of frogs in Michigan, Nicholas also became interested in gardening, and earned his certification as a Junior Master Gardener. During his research, a deeper interest in the environment prompted Nicholas to learn about various feeders and bird boxes. His own nine acre backyard became a fertile field for experimentation, resulting in an independent landscaping/ environmental project, which culminated in his yard becoming certified as a Backyard Wildlife Habitat. Nicholas' yard is now one of 17 certified in Lapeer County, and one of 1398 sites in all of Michigan as of March, 2002.
EPA Region 6
Trail of Dreams
Trenton's 4-H experiences increased his awareness about the animals whose habitats were being destroyed by a street-widening project. His concern included the issues surrounding the destruction of large native trees to add more pavement. His conclusion was that there was a great need to plant more trees and therefore he sought and got a tree-planting grant from the 4- H Foundation for a thousand-square-foot area.
He formulated his plan by researching the kinds of plants and trees that were native to the area. Trenton then enlisted his entire 4-H Club (YFR 4-H of Broken Arrow) to become involved with plant selections and getting "down and dirty" with the planting. His goal was to mesh 4-H projects with Oklahoma's native plants, such as the northern wild oats; Indian grass, Oklahoma's state grass; the Redbud tree, Oklahoma's state tree; and, the Indian blanket flower, the state flower. About 50 different plant species were selected, bought, and planted. Trent's outdoor classroom, "YFR Field of Dreams Outdoor Classroom," continually grows and gives back to the community who can enjoy this area, whether driving by and seeing the sweeping expanse of yuccas and loblolly pines, or walking the pathways of the Trail of Dreams that provides a closer look at Oklahoma's smaller wild flowers.
This beautiful outdoor classroom not only demonstrates the natural beauty of Oklahoma, but is now a certified Oklahoma wildscape. By carefully researching the plant life, water sources and habitats, Trent was also able to have the land certified as a National Backyard Habitat. Trent's tireless work in environmental education has also earned him youth awards from Keep Oklahoma Beautiful and from Tulsa County.
EPA Region 7
Refurbished Nature Trail
The Urban Environmental Outreach Program for Kids
The Urban Environmental Outreach Program for Kids (UEOP) came into existence in January 1999 to promote leadership for kids within their community. The group of 15 children range in age from 4 -- 17 and attend various schools in Wyandote County, and have become a true asset to their community. Their community projects include creating gardens for area churches, painting park benches, participating in community clean-up days, creating a diverse vegetable/fruit garden, restaking fruit trees, building a pond with a waterfall, and creating an Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site (OWLS), the first certified OWLS in Kansas City, Kansas.
The students identified a two mile nature trail, part of Kansas City Kansas Community College, which had been closed for twelve years and was in a state of deterioration. They determined that restoration/beautification of this trail for educational purposes would be a great contribution to their community. Their plan included clearing out poison ivy and overgrown brush and trees, repair of the bridge over the small pond, as well as the steps leading to it. They replaced birdhouses, planted flowers and trees, two butterfly gardens, laid rock for a pathway, rebuilt one of the bridges, posted plant identification signs, laid mulch for the walkway, and made the walkway accessible for wheelchairs. The trail also includes a section of classroom style seating and one wheel chair assembly bridge. Lumber used to rebuild the bridge was recycled from electric poles from Westar Energy in Topeka, KS.
The award winning project will become an outdoor learning environment for the community, K- 12 students, and biology students at the College. Students will be able to participate in tree identification, categorization of flora and fauna, building habitats, and continued enhancement of the trail.
The group has partnered with many community organizations in their projects to include: the Green Team of Topeka, the Sierra Club, Master Gardeners, National Guard of Kansas City, the Wyandotte County Conservation District, United Way of Wyandotte County, Boy Scout Troop 211, General Motors employees, and future leaders of Ft. Leavenworth Academy.
The UEOP Students consistently strive to show other students what it means to give back to their community. Their dedication to improvement is an outstanding example of how students of any age can become involved in the community to preserve and protect their environment.
EPA Region 8
FrontRange Earthforce Youth Advisory Board
For the last three years, the FrontRange EarthForce Youth Advisory Board (YAB) in Denver has been a leader in protecting the environment. Their activities have included the EarthForce Annual Youth Summit; the Environmental Justice Experience; EarthForce projects within their local schools groups; and, participation in training and outreach to area youth and communities.
The YAB, predominantly a group of middle school students, was responsible for creating the annual Youth Summit, a gathering of local EarthForce programs, affiliated youth service-learning groups, and other partners. Responsibilities include planning activities and entertainment, fund raising, developing promotional materials, creating and carrying through the agenda, inviting officials, soliciting refreshment donations, and recruiting volunteers. The Summit includes service-learning classes, project sharing, and hands-on activities to promote learning and enhance interaction. The most recent Summit was held at the Denver Zoo in collaboration with the Zoo's Education Department and WIN-WIN Program. Summit participation included over 600 youth, educators and community partners, such as Project Learning Tree, COPEEN, and Metropolitan State College's Center for Visual Arts. Participation, including writing letters of invitation and solicitation for donations, has afforded these students valuable lessons which can later be carried throughout their lives. The organization and interaction of each of the activities all lead to a better understanding of how students and business can partner to create programs to enhance the community.
The YAB's most outstanding accomplishment was the Environmental Justice Experiences which they created for over 600 youth and educators at the Summit, and for hundreds of others at the state-wide Colorado Department of Education's Service-Learning Conference in May, 2002. The students were concerned by the largely invisible practice of environmental injustice in the Denver metro area. Environmental justice is the notion that all people should equally share the environmental impacts of our American lifestyle. In actuality, it has been proven that low income communities of color bear a disproportionate amount of pollution and other negative environmental impacts. The YAB created an environmental justice village, an experiential model, which helped to educate people about what can be done to take constructive action to reduce and/or eliminate this problem.
Students on the YAB are representative from a variety of in-school and after school EarthForce programs. They are models of civic engagement for their fellow classmates around the metro area. All YAB members have been part of an EF group and have carried out at least two environmental service projects with that group. Through their participation, they have learned how to identify issues in their community, create an action plan and carry out on projects that have a long term effect on their community.
EPA Region 9
Sunnyside High School
The students in Sunnyside High School's IMPACTT program made an impact both in their local communities and in their own education. Based on scientific investigation, a view for the future and a drive to make change, these energetic students established goals for the restoration of native plants, the health of their rivers, and the protection of habitats from industrial pollution.
The Integrating Multiple Perspectives Across the Curriculum for Today and Tomorrow (IMPACTT) program bega n in 1999. The program emphasizes environmental science and environmental health issues as the context for learning traditional academic subjects. IMPACTT is a unique, fully integrated environmental health/environmental science academy, or "school within a school." Students obtain academic credits in science, health, math, English, social studies, physical education, and technology while investigating real problems, most involving environmental and health issues.
As part of their education they have constructed a schoolyard natural habitat featuring plants and animals indigenous to the Sonoran Desert that is used as a living laboratory as well as for school field trips and for community outreach programs. They have been active in the Tucson Urban Gardens' Backyard Gardening Project, which involves teaching area residents how to create gardens for food and beauty and to assist them in constructing these backyard gardens. They have collaborated with Diane E. Austin of the University of Arizona and students from across the border in Nogales, Sonora to compare habitats constructed in both countries by students.
The students have formed alliances with Tucson Audubon Society, Tucson Parks and Recreation, Tucson Botanical Gardens, University of Arizona Southwest Environmental Health Science Outreach Program, Native Seeds/SEARCH, as well as Native American groups. They have received their registration as a weather site for the GLOBE Project. They co-sponsor an annual IMPACTT Earth Day for Kids which is attended by elementary school students from around the county.
Their interest in safeguarding the environment evolved to include the protection of human health. They studied the correlation between air pollution and the frequency of asthma attacks, as well as the effects of pollution on plants and indigenous animals. They host an annual statewide Teen Health and Tobacco Conference. The students performed soil, water, and air testing in local river basins, comparing these data over time to evaluate damage to the habitat. They have monitored the weather at various sites in Pima County and analyzed the data to spot pollution trends.
In 2001 IMPACTT students started the Annual T.E.E.N. Summit (Together Expressing Enthusiasm for Nature) with funding from Pima County Government. It gathers teens from all over Pima County to present environmental data they have collected and to attend seminars about environmental issues and the implementation of the Pima County Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. The IMPACTT students did all the planning and execution and served as conveners and keynote speakers. In addition, many conducted breakout sessions based on their research. Every student also presented their work in a poster session. They have already begun planning the 3rd Annual Conference for this spring.
Students have also presented at the Eleventh International Conference on Thinking in Phoenix and attended the 10th Annual Conference in Harrogate, England. They have also co-hosted radio shows interviewing some of the great minds of our time and discussing issues like genetic engineering, education, sustainable development, creative thinking and systemic problem solving.
EPA Region 10
Suquamish Elementary School
In the spring of 2002, a small group of Suquamish Elementary students, staff and volunteers, in partnership with the Suquamish Indian Tribe, began planning to transform the water run-off area of the parking lot into a marshland. The Basket Marsh is now an environmental center that weaves together all of the school's curriculum in the areas of reading, writing, art, math, and science. It also serves as a common place to learn about the native culture of the area and respect for differences; it reinforces the concept that both nature and native cultures influenced this created environment.
A group of students were recruited to serve as the Student Advisory Board in the marsh development. They are called the "Pond Kids." Under the leadership of the Student Advisory Board, all of the students of Suquamish Elementary had the opportunity to participate in the creation and maintenance of the wetland habitat. The students learned about water quality, where their water run-off goes, and the benefits of native plants. The Pond Kids met once or twice a week after school to plan and coordinate the project, as well as do much of the physical labor; they cleared out blackberries and scotch broom, and helped to rake, dig and plant. The students worked directly with community members to plan the design for the pond, and studied wetlands, storm water run-off and water pollution.
The students' original plan was just to create the pond, but their concerns about oil and other pollutants getting in the pond from the parking lot led to the addition of the bioswale to filter the water before it reaches the pond. They built a 3-D model by shooting elevations with a transit every ten feet, plotting the data, and creating a layered topographical map of the area using such tools as a survey pole that measures the grade of the land. They helped plan the dedication, made speeches and conducted tours for parents, community members and tribal elders who came for the ceremony. The Basket Marsh now serves as a lasting testimony for the Pond Kids concern for their environment and will hopefully encourage other students to embark on similar projects.