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EPA Celebrates Earth Day and Environmental Education: Chapel Hill, North Carolina Student Wins President’s Environmental Youth Award

EPA Celebrates Earth Day and Environmental Education

Contact Information: 
Melba Table (
(404) 562-9086 (Direct), (404) 562-8400 (Main)

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.– (April 23, 2020) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), is pleased to announce the recipients of the  President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). Among the winners are We Sense Youth Team - The team comprises of four school high school students, Bo, Yichen, Ayden, and Savannah from Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

“As we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, we are also celebrating nearly 50 years of environmental education that fosters awareness about conservation issues, and helps communities make informed, responsible decisions about their environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

“I am proud to recognize the “We Sense Youth Team” for their hard work and commitment to protecting the environment,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “These students are showing that, regardless of age, you can make a difference in the environment and your community.”

“Small choices make big impacts. Let us all make positive changes in everyday life and turn each day into an Earth day,” said The We Sense Youth Team.

The Teams Project: Go Green - Holiday Action” aimed to solve the problem that public knowledge and actual practice about recycling was limited. To solve this the problem, the team set out to spread awareness and promote actionable solutions through a series of community-engaging holiday-themed events incorporating technology and interactive activities. This project was able to impact more than 700 participants with fun curbside recycling quizzes, creative applications of over 100 pounds of recycled materials in artistic exhibits and crafts, and a home-made app, EcoEye, which utilizes AI-Vision to classify various wastes and their recyclability.

From across the country, 10 educators and 35 students are being recognized for their leadership and commitment to environmental education and environmental stewardship. This year, seven educators will receive the 2020 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and three educators will be recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Winning educators demonstrated leadership by integrating environmental education into multiple subjects and using topics such as healthy school environments, environmentally friendly agricultural practices, reducing ocean litter, gardening, recycling, or STEM to teach sustainability to K-12 students.

Additionally, 35 students who worked as a team or individually on 13 projects will receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Their stewardship projects, conducted in 2019, display a commitment to learning, to protecting natural resources, and to engaging their communities in environmental protection.


Since the establishment of the original Environmental Education Act of 1970, The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) Program has recognized outstanding community-level environmental projects by K-12 youth for almost 50 years. Today, as part of the National Environmental Education Act of 1990, PEYA continues to promote awareness of natural resources and encourages positive community involvement.  Each year, PEYA honors a wide-variety of local-level projects developed by students, school classes, summer camp attendees and youth organizations to promote engagement in environmental stewardship and protection. Students in all 50 states and U.S. territories are invited to participate in the program.