SPRINGFIELD — Today, Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott honored a group of distinguished Illinois fifth and sixth grade students selected for their creative skills, which they used to express environmental awareness. The writers and artists selected from throughout Illinois were recognized at a reception at the Hall of Flags and Auditorium in the Howlett Building in downtown Springfield. The ceremony recognized the students for their efforts and concluded the Agency’s 22nd annual Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest.
“The environmental decisions we make today will affect these students in the future,” said Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott. “Part of environmental stewardship is educating others, and I am confident that these students will continue to educate their communities to make good environmental decisions.”
Each spring, students learn about environmental protection of the air, land, and water through the Agency’s environmental education guide, “Environmental Pathways—Youth Investigating Pollution Issues in Illinois.” Following the completion of the guide, students use their creative talents to visually articulate, in the form of a poster or a written work, their ideas of how they can protect our precious resources—air, land, or water. Special emphasis is given to one of those three areas on an annual, rotating basis. This year’s lesson focused on the importance of clean water and what we can do to conserve it with “Your Water Footprint…Keep it Small, Keep it Clean!” as the event’s theme.
“I feel that water pollution is a huge problem that people try to ignore,” said honorable mention Veronica Cothard. “If we express the problem to others then they could help.”
A panel from the Illinois EPA judged all entries and selects the finalists, whose entries were then judged by an outside panel of authorities, to determine the top twelve winners.
The students, their families, and teachers were invited to the reception at which the top 12 winners received U.S. savings bonds and environmental reference books for their school libraries. The winners, along with all finalists, also received certificates and ribbons.
Following the ceremony, the winning entries will be on exhibit in the atrium at Illinois EPA’s Springfield headquarters from April 6 through May 4; the top twelve will be featured on the Illinois EPA’s web site.
This year’s winners who submitted written entries in the top six slots were:
• Jasper Brown from Hinsdale, who attends Oak Elementary School
• Jessie Citterman from Arlington Heights, who attends South Middle School
• Emma Decker from La Grange, who attends St. Cletus
• Maren Kavanagh from Lake Forest, who attends East Lake Academy
• Karoline Orloff from Countryside, who attends St. Cletus
• Nick Pentz from Schaumburg, who attends Herbert Hoover Elementary
Young artists whose posters placed in the top six slots were:
• Christie Bek from Glenview, who attends Washington Elementary
• Mia DiCara from Long Grove, who attends East Lake Academy
• Victoria Lee from Hawthorn Woods, who attends Fremont Middle School
• Kealy Mruk from Lindenhurst, who attends Millburn West
• Anisha Nallakrishnan from Willowbrook, who attends Avery Coonley School
• Tia Nelson from Hinsdale, who attends Hinsdale Middle School
In addition to the winners, 12 other students received a ribbon, certificate, and an Honorable Mention medal in recognition of creativity, time and effort, and artistic skills. Those students were:
• Megan Behrendt from Lindenhurst, who attends Millburn West
• Michelle Borla from Schaumburg, who attends Herbert Hoover Elementary
• Abby Cole from Hinsdale, who attends Oak Elementary School
• Veronica Cothard from Hinsdale, who attends Hinsdale Middle School
• Rachel David from Hawthorn Woods, who attends Fremont Middle School
• Andrew Hubona from La Grange, who attends St. Cletus
• Allegra Jarvis from Schaumburg, who attends Herbert Hoover Elementary
• Taylor Largent-Younger from Macon, who attends Meridian Middle School
• Sheridan Noll from Charleston, who attends Jefferson Elementary
• Reena Prabhu from Schaumburg, who attends Herbert Hoover Elementary
• Christopher Sãenz from Champaign, who attends Countryside School
• Diana Shlikhtova from Skokie, who attends Middleton Elementary School
Also attending the ceremony were several other finalists who received a ribbon and certificate for their creative efforts. In addition, tours of the Capitol and the Illinois State Museum were given before and after the awards ceremony.
Information about the annual event can be obtained by contacting Kristi Morris-Richards, environmental education coordinator for the Illinois EPA at 1021 North Grand Avenue E., P.O. Box 19276, Springfield, IL, 62794-9276, or Kristi.Morris-Richards@Illinois.gov.