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News Releases from Region 04

EPA Celebrates Earth Day and Environmental Education: Tampa, Florida, 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)

TAMPA, Fla. (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 is 9-year-old Zach of Tampa, Florida, who launched Zach's Planet, in hopes of promoting reuse and upcycling in his community and helping kids and homeless pets in need

“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 Zach for his hard work and commitment to protecting the environment,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Zach has shown that, regardless of age, you can make a difference in the environment and your community.”

"Every small act of kindness can make a big impact on the environment.  We all have to pitch in to be kind to our planet," said Zach.

With Zach's Planet, Zach has run numerous book drives in schools, organizations and sports clubs and collected over 20,000 used books and donated them to Title 1 Schools and Little Free Libraries in 12 states. Zach partnered with a non-profit organization, Glad Dogs Nation, who upcycles used stuffed animals and creates pet toys for shelter pets. Zach collected over 800 unwanted stuffed animals and transformed them into lovable squeaker toys for donation to shelters in 3 states. His efforts of kindness were featured in Woman's Day Magazine and recognized by his district Boy Scout office. Zach has also saved over two tons of reusable items from going into landfills, saved over 800 trees by promoting reuse and encouraged over 100 people to help him in his efforts to save the planet. Additionally, Zach spreads his message on his website -, Facebook page and YouTube channel where he highlights his efforts and promotes ways everyone can help the environment though small acts of kindness.

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.