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News Releases from Region 04

White House, EPA Honor Student Award Winners from Tampa, FL

06/08/2017
Contact Information: 
Jason McDonald (mcdonald.jason@epa.gov)
404-562-9203, 404-562-8400

ATLANTA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced elementary school students Chase Hartman and Vance Tomasi of Tampa, FL are the winners of a 2016 Presidential Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). The program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth. These students demonstrate the initiative, creativity, and applied problem-solving skills needed to tackle environmental problems and find sustainable solutions.

Fifteen projects are being recognized this year, from 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

“Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”

Chase and Vance founded Save A Book, Save A Forest, Change A Life after learning that more than 300 million books are discarded and enter landfills every year, while some kids don’t have books at home. The pair enlisted volunteers from their fifth-grade class, Cub Scout Pack, and National Elementary Honor Society to count, sort, pack, and deliver books. In doing so, the group helped to keep 25,235 books out of landfills by repurposing them for use at 32 organizations that include hospitals, libraries, group homes, and charities. In six months, the project has galvanized the community and watched its ranks grow to include students from three elementary schools, businesses, the media, and the local Boy Scouts of America office.

Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations.

This year’s PEYA winners conducted a wide range of activities, such as:

  • developing a biodegradable plastic using local agricultural waste product;
  • designing an efficient, environmentally friendly mosquito trap using solar power and compost by-product;
  • saving approximately 2,000 tadpoles to raise adult frogs and toads;
  • implementing a hydroponics and aquaculture project in a high school;
  • repurposing over 25,000 books;
  • creating an environmental news YouTube channel;
  • organizing recycling programs to benefit disaster victims and underserved community members;
  • reclaiming and repurposing over 4,000 discarded pencils within their school;
  • promoting food waste reduction;
  • creating a small, portable tool to prevent air strikes of migratory birds;
  • engaging their community in a program to save a threatened bird, the Western Snowy Plover;
  • testing grey water to encourage water conservation;
  • promoting bee health;
  • uniting their schools to address local environmental issues.

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.

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit:
https://www.epa.gov/education.

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