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EPA selects Michigan youth for Presidential Environmental Youth Award

Release Date: 04/20/2006
Contact Information: Karen Thompson, (312) 353-8547,


CHICAGO (April 20, 2006) Kacy Hermans of Midland, Mich., has been selected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 as regional winner of the President's Environmental Youth Award. Winners from each of EPA's 10 regions will be recognized today at a ceremony in Washington D.C.

For the first time in Region 5 history, the winner, first and second runners- up in the contest are all from the same state, Michigan.

Searching for ideas for a 4-H project, 18-year-old Kacy discovered the Chippewa Nature Center in Midland where her rain garden project has blossomed into the centerpiece of the nature center's environmental education program. She marshaled local donations of money, labor, equipment and supplies to turn a 20- by 10-foot plot of dirt into a stunning rain garden, planted with Michigan wildflowers and plants, that cools runoff, filters pollutants and percolates water into the ground.

"Kacy's project shows that each of us can make a difference when it comes to protecting the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We received many outstanding entries and I commend all participants for their efforts as our future environmental leaders."

EPA also recognized these finalists:

First runner-up: Andrew McNiel's project to replant a portion of the banks along the Rouge River in Livonia, Mich., was not only recognized by EPA but also boosted him to Eagle Scout rank in the Boy Scouts. Andrew planted more than 500 donated native shrubs, grasses and wildflowers along the natural drainage area in Rotary Park to restore natural habitat for wildlife.

Second runner-up: The Water Warriors, two dozen students from Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Mich., initiated weekly testing of the waters of the two main forks of the Rifle River in Ogemaw County establishing for the first time criteria to identify future changes in the
river's health. Started on Earth Day 2004, the project has brought "science to life" for many students. They have shared their work with community groups, local media, other schools and environmental scientists.

The President's Environmental Youth Awards program is a national contest sponsored annually by EPA to honor creative environmental projects developed and carried out by elementary and high school students. Today's awards recognized projects completed during the 2005 school year. The deadline for 2006 entries is Oct. 31. Find more information on the awards program at

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