The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that the George Mason High School Environmental Group, a group of 11 students in Falls Church, Va. will receive the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award for grade levels 6-12 for their work with healthy and sustainable farming practices. The national award is presented each year to exceptional students who demonstrate creativity, innovation, and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.
“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.”
The George Mason High School Environmental Group has worked for the past two years to implement two projects, with a focus on providing healthy, sustainable food sources that can be produced in an urban area. Through hydroponics and an aquaculture projects, the students are contributing fresh lettuce and in the future, fresh fish to their high school cafeteria.
The students received a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to work with soil scientists from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District on ways to reduce water runoff in urban areas. Through this project, the group became interested in other sustainable urban practices, and received a grant from the Falls Church Education Foundation to design and implement a hydroponics and aquaculture project at their high school and a local middle school.
For their efforts, the students were awarded the Project Green Schools award for Outstanding Commitment to Green-o-vation. The team has presented their work to the Falls Church City 4H Club, the Falls Church Garden Club, and science teachers in Northern Virginia, as well as at the 2015 and 2016 Student Environmental Action Showcase at George Mason University.
Established in 1971, the President’s Environmental Youth Award promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Focused on environmental stewardship, student projects from each of EPA’s ten regions are selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, K-12 school classes, and youth organizations.
For details on the new PEYA winners, visit: https://www.epa.gov/education/presidents-environmental-youth-award-peya-winners