An official website of the United States government.

News Releases from Region 09

Southern California students honored with President’s Environmental Youth Award

Contact Information: 
Nahal Mogharabi (

LOS ANGELES — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that students Audrey Kim of Irvine, Calif., and Ayanna Neal, of Playa Del Rey, Calif. have received the Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). Nationally, 20 students received the award, which honors exceptional contributions to environmental education and stewardship.

“The ambitious efforts of these students will help create a more sustainable future,” said Mike Stoker, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA will continue to invest in and recognize the next generation of environmental stewards who will further our efforts to protect our planet.”

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.

K-5 Winner, Audrey Kim (Irvine, CA)
Second grader Audrey Kim won for her project titled AUDREY4CARE. AUDREY4CARE, which stands for Care 4 Animals and Respect 4 the Earth, was started to protect marine life. Through her YouTube Channel and sales of her handmade paper roses and natural soy candles, Audrey has raised over $3,300 for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, Calif. Audrey also organized a class field trip for a local beach cleanup event and regularly educates the public about caring for the environment through community outreach at her local library and beaches.

6-12 Winner, Ayanna Neal (Playa Del Rey, CA)
As part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, high school senior Ayanna Neal founded an environmental non-profit organization called Friends of the LAX Dunes, or FOLD, to protect and restore habitats owned by the Los Angeles Airport. The LAX El Segundo Dunes Preserve is home to over 900 species, including the El Segundo blue butterfly. Ayanna formed a strong private-public partnership between the Los Angeles Airport and corporate sponsors such as Verizon, Southern California Gas and the local Rotary Club to secure volunteers and resources. FOLD hosts monthly events where volunteers learn how to identify plant species, remove non-native plants and reseed damaged landscapes. In 2017, FOLD hosted 16 events with 544 volunteers, and logged more than 1,632 volunteer hours. Ayanna has also expanded upon an innovative Adopt-a-Dune Program, in which local businesses provide resources and volunteers for restoration efforts to ensure the future of the program.

For a list of the 2017 PEYA winners, visit:

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit:

Learn more about EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. Connect with us on Facebook and on Twitter.