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Washington Heights Group Wins Top Honors In President's Environmental Youth Awards Contest

Release Date: 04/21/1999
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(#99061) NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Fourteen youngsters, ranging in age from nine to 17, received top honors today from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for building urban nature trails along the borders of the George Washington Bridge Park. The group was just one of ten chosen from across the country to receive a President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) from EPA. The national award recognizes young people who become an environmental force within their community. EPA also awarded two regional PEYAs to groups from Armonk, New York and Manahawkin, New Jersey.

"These kids have given this community a precious gift -- a place to walk and enjoy nature in this otherwise highly-urbanized area of New York City," said Jeanne M. Fox, EPA Region 2 Administrator. "In fact, this entire community should be commended for turning a crime-infested vacant lot into a safe and clean park."

Guided by volunteers from West 181st Street Beautification Project, this group of young people from the local community worked tirelessly for two summers to plan and create the trail. Along the new trails, the kids designed features that give children the opportunity to identify natural objects found in the park, such as pine cones and feathers in the "Touch-and-Feel Nature Station," read a rain gauge or make mini-tornadoes in bottles at the weather station and learn about earthworms at the worm bin. Kids can also gather to remember pets that have died and water flowers to affirm that life continues in the "Circle-of- Life Shade Garden," and visit the tree nursery or children's perennial garden. The entire community can now enjoy the much-improved park where they can experience nature.

The group honored today includes Danny Fiallo, John Fiallo, Ramon Pena, Anthony de Jesus, Tlaloc Gomez, Xochitl Gomez, Arletty Diaz, Paolo Rosario, Idelfi Taveras, Arecelis Guzman, Trisha Mendez, Raysa Torres, Jairon Then, and Daury Jose. Jeanlee Poggi and Emmanuel Minaya coordinated their efforts.

Each year, the White House honors ten individuals or groups from across the country for their outstanding environmental achievements. The President's Environmental Youth Award program is designed to foster a sense of leadership in young people and encourage them to address environmental problems in their communities. In addition to the 10 national winners, EPA Region 2 chose two regional winners from H.C. Crittenden Middle School in Armonk, New York and Southern Regional High School in Manahawkin, New Jersey.

For more information on the West 181st Street Beautification Project, please contact Jeanlee Poggi or Emmanuel Minaya at 212-946-1703. For more information on how to apply a PEYA award, visit EPA's Website at or call EPA Region 2's Communications Division at 212-637-3678. For educational environmental information geared toward young children, visit EPA's Kids Web at For educational environmental material designed for older children and high school students, visit

For more information contact:
Mary Helen Cervantes-Gross, Press Office
EPA Region 2
290 Broadway
NY, NY 10007-1866
Voice: 212-637-3673 FAX: 212-637-4445 E-Mail: