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News Releases from Region 09

Watsonville, Calif. students receive Presidents environmental education award for fighting to protect sea turtles worldwide

Contact Information: 
Suzanne Skadowski U.S. EPA (skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov)

SAN FRANCISCO - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the fifth grade class at Mount Madonna School in Watsonville, Calif. will receive the President's Environmental Youth Award for their work to fight environmental threats faced by California sea turtles. The awards are presented each year to exceptional students and teachers who demonstrate creativity, innovation, and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.

"Through their passion and commitment, these amazing students and teachers are making a difference in their community and across the world to protect sea turtles," said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. "We are pleased to honor their work and inspired to see this community nurture these young environmental stewards."

The 18 fifth graders at Mount Madonna won the 2014 President's Environmental Youth Award for their year-long environmental education and stewardship campaign titled "Don't be a Nurdle, Help the Sea Turtle: Poaching, Bycatch & Plastic Pollution, Tell the World About Our Solution."

Over the 2014 school year the students: created an educational movie on the threats faced by California sea turtles; raised $4000 to support Indonesian villages education program on sea turtle conservation; presented at a city council meeting to ban single use plastic bags; wrote letters to local and state representatives; cleaned up a beach and school campus; and created fishing line canisters for fisherman to recycle their used line in a local "Stow It, Don't Throw It" campaign.

The students created the humorous and educational video, "Don't be a Nurdle, Help the Sea Turtle" to help raise money to support sea turtle conservation camp for children of impoverished Indonesian villages where the Leatherback sea turtles nest. Fifth graders worked with their ninth grade buddies to create environmental curriculum and games about bycatch, poaching, turtles and marine debris, that the teachers at sea turtle camp can use to educate village children.

Established in 1971, the President's Environmental Youth Award promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Focused on environmental stewardship, one outstanding project from each of EPA's ten regions is selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, K-12 school classes, and youth organizations. Learn more at: www.epa.gov/peya.