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Students from Marshfield, Mass. Receive Presidential Award for Environmental Project

Release Date: 04/26/2006
Contact Information: Sheryl Rosner, (617) 918-1865

(Boston, Mass. – April 26, 2006) - Students from Marshfield High School were recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and received one of 10 awards nationwide at the 35th annual 2005 President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) at a White House ceremony last Friday. The biology students were honored for work they completed last year building a rain garden which currently serves as a natural filter to prevent contaminated runoff from entering the South River in Marshfield, Mass.

After extensive research, the students identified 13 sites in Marshfield where contaminated stormwater runs into the South River – a polluted waterway where shell fishing is banned and recreational activities are limited. The project involved planning and building a bio-retention system, or rain garden, to naturally filter and prevent contaminated stormwater from entering the River.

“These students set an example for all of us and demonstrate that each citizen can make a difference in preserving the environment for tomorrow,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “We applaud the innovation and determination these students showed through this project and feel proud that our future environmental leaders are in our midst.”

The students chose a suitable site at a parking lot behind the Town Hall and hoped it would serve as a model for action on the 12 other sites. Beyond the task of planning the bio-retention system, students also worked to fund the project – which was estimated to cost $20,000. The group met with engineers and consultants from the town as they planned the system’s design and construction and also made presentations to town officials.

The rain garden was built in August 2005 with donations of labor, goods, and supplies secured by the students. The rain garden functions well and is expected to require minimal maintenance.

While the full benefits of this project for the South River have not yet been seen, they are expected to be considerable. The success of this project has been noted by other local communities and the Marshfield students have shared their ideas and experiences with students and teachers in neighboring towns.

The President’s Environmental Youth Awards have been presented annually since 1971 to honor students in kindergarten through 12th grade who develop projects that help protect local environments and promote local environmental awareness in their communities. Each year, contestants submit applications along with summaries of their environmental projects to EPA's regional offices. Regional panels judge projects on environmental need, accomplishment of goals, long-term environmental benefits and positive impact on local communities. The panels also consider project design, coordination, implementation, innovation and soundness of approach, and the students' effectiveness in presenting the projects.

More information on the program, as well as a listing of the 2005 award winners and their project descriptions, is at

A photograph of the Marshfield students with President Bush is available at: