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EPA selects Ohio youths for Presidential Environmental Youth Award

Release Date: 05/13/2009
Contact Information: William Omohundro, 312-353-8254, omohundro.william@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA086

(Chicago, May 13, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has selected Clay McMullen, Isabella Todaro, Kelli Wright, Shawn Cooper and Zak Kucera from West Geauga School in Chesterland, Ohio, as regional winners of the 2009 President's Environmental Youth Award. Winners from each of EPA's 10 regions were recognized today at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The five middle-school students formed a group called the Wetlands Education Team. While on a nature walk learning about dwindling osprey populations, they started their first project. They created nesting sites for the osprey and started teaching about the role of wetlands in the health of communities, including flood reduction, erosion control, runoff water purification, sanctuaries for endangered species and recreation.

The students have held seminars for a variety of audiences bringing in speakers to train over 65 adults on how to monitor seasonal wetlands - vernal pools - using the global positioning system, or GPS. They created outdoor classrooms at their school and at area elementary schools that are used for hands-on science activities. The classrooms include a rain garden, a sustainability garden and nature trails. The students have taken part in many monitoring programs and have worked to get the spotted salamander designated as Ohio's state amphibian.

"Every student who competed in the program is a winner," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "They have shown remarkable motivation and dedication to environmental protection and are an inspiration to us all."

The regional second place winner is Sahana Rao, a high school student from Palatine, Ill., who drafted legislation to amend the Illinois Solid Waste Management Act to require all primary and secondary public schools to use recycled paper for their daily needs. The bill was signed into law on July 18, 2008.

The third place winners are five high school students, Charles Primbas, Gregory Pasiadis, John Wilson, Zachary Lawrence and Brian Vogt, who attend Hawken School in Cleveland, Ohio. The students make up an environmental community service group called the Lake Kleenerz Environmental Education Campaign. The group is located at the Cleveland Lakefront Exploration Station at the Cleveland Lakefront Exploration Center. The students designed educational materials for the center to educate the public on issues of invasive species and non-point source pollution in Lake Erie.

The President's Environmental Youth Awards program is an annual contest sponsored by EPA to honor creative environmental projects developed and implemented by elementary and high school students. The projects were chosen from entries submitted by students from the six states in EPA Region 5, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

More information about the President's Environmental Youth Award is at http://www.epa.gov/peya.

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