Congratulations to the winners of the 20132014 Land & Water Challenge!
The Eco Narcs MK II, California
Team: Sevag, Marc, Virginia, Alvin, Anna, Ashot, Kamran, Jennifer
Teacher advisor Dominique Evans-Bye and her team tackled environmental deforestation, specifically as it relates to the illegal harvesting of marijuana in their region. The students used sophisticated geographic information system (GIS) technology, mapping software, and desktop publishing in their implementation and public outreach efforts, and assisted the Ventura County sheriff department in its struggle to prevent deforestation through the area's illegal marijuana grow sites.
Team: Pawel, Evan, Krusha, Jamie, Jill
Led by teacher advisor Colleen Brandner, Greengineers employed a multitiered project to battle the increasingly prevalent issue of improper medication and medicine bottle disposal. The team put together a community awareness campaign (including a vibrant website that allows for users to search for medicine "Take Back" drives and recycling events by zip code) and forged partnerships with mainstream pharmacy chain stores to spread the word.
IB Sciences Group 4 Initiative, Texas
Team: Mary Claire, Mohammed, Taylor, Roshan, Gabrielle
The once flourishing natural area in front of the high school that the students of IB Sciences Group 4 Initiative attend is deteriorating. Teacher advisor Rhoda Hahn and her team developed a long-term plan to introduce sustainability to the area that includes spreading awareness of conservation techniques, the use of solar power and geothermal energy, as well as building out uses for rainwater collection and distribution. Nice work!
Mission Mitigation, New York
Team: Will, Joanna, Douglas, Veronica, Sushruta, Suvruta, Ben, Aakriti
Teacher advisor Maribel Pregnall and her team directed their efforts at a number of tasks that fall under the umbrella of the Lexus Eco Challenge's Land & Water portion-the topics included loss of biodiversity, endangered species, and more. Mission Mitigation worked with the New York State Department of Transportation to lessen the impact that state and local construction had on their region's biodiversity, such as nearby natural habitats for turtles and bats.
Team: Mikaela, Jon, Christopher, Bridget, Michael, Jack, Samantha, Anthony
Pinelands Eco Scienteers might be named for a wooded coastal area in the state of New Jersey, but teacher advisor Stephen Kubricki and his team looked to the world's vanishing forests for their inspiration. Their anti-deforestation project, which began with research into international cooking-fuel alternatives, ultimately yielded their own biomass briquettes made of peanut shells and pine needles! They've identified grants and potential donors as next steps.
Team 696, California
Team: Mariam, Cynthia, Lulua, Jerry, Matej, Chris, Saikiran
Teacher advisor David Black and his team surveyed the damaging effects that wildfires have on America's forests and put into place a plan to speed regrowth in Deukmejian Wilderness Park, an area destroyed by fire and invasive species. The students constructed and launched a weather balloon (!!!) to collect data over more than 800 square miles, presented findings to local schools, and partnered with local officials to aid in post-fire regrowth at Deukmejian Wilderness Park, where they distributed more than 100 gallons of water to 37 trees.
Team Cahaba, Alabama
Team: Caroline, Jonny, Massie, Tyler, Hunter
Chinese privet, a shrub that's spread across Alabama thanks to seeds that were sown by birds and carried by water, is among the most invasive plant species in the state. Team Cahaba and teacher advisor Janet Ort measured the density and regrowth rate of the invasive plant, and set aside a "Privet Pull," whereby they enlisted the help of more than 40 volunteers to remove privet from their campus while rolling out a plan with vegetation experts to clear three other pinpointed sites.
The Preservation Foundation, California
Team: Jasmine, Aaron, Keeley, Daniel, Jacob, Danny, Michaela
The Preservation Foundation designated a section of decimated wetlands area in and near their school's campus in order to restore it by transplanting new wetlands growth. Led by teacher advisor David Getner, the team conducted extensive research and got to work. The results? More than 3,000 pounds of new wetlands growth, involvement of more than 100 students, the removal of 150 pounds of trash, and more. Wow!
Waste Busters, Missouri
Team: Alec, Kevin, Andy, Justin, Abby, Phillip, Panache
Waste Busters countered their region's dependency on landfills, opening up the option of composting to other schools in their district (as well as educating the student body about it) and spreading the message of recycling unconventional materials like electronics. Teacher advisor Russ Barton and his students implemented e-waste recycling drives, composting and vermicomposting (which earned the district an award from the state), and set up a garden for native plants on land that was overrun by invasive honeysuckle. Kudos, Waste Busters!
St. Ursula Arrows, Ohio
Team: Emily, Mattison, Neera, Alyssa, Jasmine, Beatrice, Maddie, Charese, Caroline
St. Ursula Arrows aimed high for their Action Plan with a bold attempt to prevent water runoff from their school grounds from finding its way into Lake Erie-runoff that carries salt, oil, and fertilizers into nearby waterways and grass areas. Teacher advisor Jackie Kane and her team worked with school officials, their city's environmental department, and more to educate themselves and others, as well as to construct a remediation site (removal of polluted soil, planting native rain garden plants and rocks) to reduce pollution caused by their school.
Team Eco Tiger, Arizona
Team: Eric, Turner, Andrew, Michael, Josie, Emily, Jackson, John Paul, Aidan, Eric N.
Team Eco Tiger's school uses more than 33,000 plastic bottles over the course of each year. After rolling out a big awareness campaign, Team Eco Tigers and teacher advisor Alexis Marsden implemented simple environmental solutions like reusable water bottles for the student community, flavor packets in lieu of retail plastic bottled drinks, and more.
Trash Terminators 2.0, North Carolina
Team: Vincent, Rohan, Elizabeth, Arden, Quentin, Graeme
Thanks to their careful audit of trash collection at their school, the Trash Terminators 2.0 determined that 55% of the campus's cafeteria waste was compostable. Teacher advisor Jamie Davis and his students partnered with a composting facility, set up a composting initiative, and hustled to get the word out. They diverted more than 80% of their school's trash by recycling and composting!
Eco MythBusters, New Jersey
Team: Victoria, Hanna, Morgan, Madison, Zachary, Justin, Samantha, Julianna, Kara, Giana
Eco MythBusters wanted to refer to their school as a "green school," but they needed to improve the institution's recycling program first. They gathered relevant data about how much recycling was happening, who was recycling, and how more recycling could be encouraged. Led by teacher advisor Tara Melchior, Eco MythBusters promoted eco action district-wide in a short film, set up a community recycling event, incentivized students and staff to recycle, and improved "green" thinking at their school significantly.
Arsenic Arresters, Texas
Team: Brett, Lane, Jeffrey, Chad, George, Hudson
Based on reports of high levels of arsenic found in groundwater not far from where Arsenic Arresters attend school, the students took aim at the pervasive problem of contaminated drinking water in their region. Teacher advisor Laura Wilbanks and her team partnered with officials and with students at local colleges to gather and analyze data, spearheaded a massive public information campaign, received the President's Volunteer Service Award for their work, and more!
The Green Jobs Team, Texas
Team: Kenna, Joshua, Tyler, Ryan, Kayley
Look no further than the name: The Green Jobs Team set out to explore exactly what the professionals in the green jobs sector do for a living. Teacher advisor Kimberly Church and her team hoped to encourage an understanding of green jobs for students in their community, particularly to inspire their peers to consider careers in that sector. They gathered information (reaching out to elected officials, engineers, energy company professionals, and more) and subsequently organized and presented it at a "Green Jobs Summit" for a district-wide audience!
Team: Sydney, Tayler, Kelby, Ciana, Sadie, Elliot
Originally found in Europe and in the former Soviet Union, an invasive species of mollusk called zebra mussels has been flourishing in the United States since 1998. By securing information from the Department of Natural Resources, actively communicating the need for community attention via radio, social media, and a print information campaign, Muscles and teacher advisor Phoebe Pittman took steps to prevent this pest from further damaging the local ecosystems of Northeast Iowa!