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News Releases from Region 06

Plano, TX, Student Wins President’s Environmental Youth Award

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Jennah Durant (

DALLAS – (Oct. 23, 2018) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that eighth-grader Madhalasa Iyer from Plano, Texas, won a President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). Madhalasa is being honored for working to protect farmers in India from harmful effects of incorrectly applied pesticides.

“Through ingenuity and perseverance, Madhalasa has made a real difference in the lives of many people,” said Regional Administrator Anne Idsal. “We are honored to recognize her scientific and humanitarian work.”

Madhalasa learned that several dozen farmers in her family’s homeland of Yavatmal, India, had died after being exposed to pesticides. In response to this tragedy, she raised enough money to send protective gloves and masks to 700 farmers in the region, along with educational pamphlets in their local language. Through research, she then developed microbial cultures to help pesticides biodegrade. She convinced a local lab to help test her cultures, which were shown to biodegrade a common herbicide faster than a commonly used culture. She is continuing her work by researching a potential low-cost, plant-derived herbicide.

Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations. Winners from across the country were recently recognized with a series of events in Washington, DC.

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation's air, water, land and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation's youth.

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit 

For details on the new PEYA winners, visit

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