November 15, 2007 - Torrance, CA - From California to New York, middle and high school students rose to the challenge with their entries in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a program designed by Lexus and Scholastic to educate and empower students to take action to improve the environment. Fourteen school teams from 11 states were recognized today for their outstanding environmental action plans for the "Protecting the Land" Challenge, the first of four challenges.
Each team wins $3,000 in scholarships and grants as well as an invitation to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance to win one of two $75,000 grand prizes. In all, more than $1 million in scholarships and grants will be awarded. The teams' winning Action Plans are posted on the Challenge's Web site (www.scholastic.com/Lexus) to help inspire other young people to make a difference in their own communities.
"In the first month of the Challenge, we had more than 10,000 unique visitors to the Web site, which tells us teachers and students are anxious to learn about the environment and find out how they can help improve it," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "Lexus congratulates this first round of winners, and we look forward to seeing more action across the country as other teachers and students discover how they, too, can make a positive impact."
For each of the challenges, teams are required to define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results. The Challenge #1 winners who best addressed "Protecting the Land" were:
High School Winners -
- "Team Kramedawg"- Farmingdale High School, Farmingdale, NY: Worked with administration and student government to increase awareness of the importance of recycling and started a recycling program on the campus. They created a Web site to help promote their idea.
- "The Elementals"- Herricks High School, New Hyde Park, NY: Researched the recycling habits of the campus community and used that information to help increase participation in recycling.
- "Manatee Team"- Manatee High School, Bradenton, Fla.: Improved school's recycling program increasing teacher participation by 300 percent and raising awareness around campus about the importance of recycling.
- "Bayou Bartholomew EAST"- McGehee High School, McGehee, Ark.: Helped to clean up pollution in the longest bayou in the United States, Bayou Bartholomew. The team created a Web site to track the efforts of the clean up.
- "Newberry Environmental Girls"- Newberry High School, Newberry, Fla.: Started a bottle recycling program on campus with the potential to recycle more than 170 plastic bottles per day.
- "Viva Verde"- North Mecklenburg High School, Huntersville, NC: Organized "Viva Verde Fashion Show," which showcases clothes made from organic cotton or secondhand clothing. Also hosted "Swap ‘til you Drop" clothing exchange program.
- "The Ones Who Care"- Sierra Vista High School, Baldwin Park, Calif.: Conducted an outreach program to educate the campus community about the danger of pesticides to human health, soil, vegetation and animals.
- "Westminster CCC"- The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, Ga.: Increased recycling on the campus by creating the "Adopt a Recycle Bin" program, holding educational assemblies and recruiting volunteers to help in the recycling effort.
Middle School Winners -
- "Eggsteins"- Great Neck South Middle School, Great Neck, NY: Explored the effects of deforestation by identifying trees, creating leaf impressions, and by taking younger students on nature walks.
- "Chi-Town Team"- Madero Middle School, Chicago, Ill.: Conducted an aluminum can drive and cleaned up a community park, both helping to raise awareness in the community about recycling.
- "The Eco-Gangsters"- Nevada Middle School, Nevada, Mo.: Increased participation in campus paper recycling program with a goal of recycling 2,500 lbs. by the end of the year, four times more than in previous years.
- "OJH World Environmental Managers"- Olympus Junior High School, Holladay, Utah: Cleaned up a local park and helped educate the community about recycling and proper disposal of trash.
- "The Spachio Six"- Phillipsburg Christian Academy, Phillipsburg, NJ: Raised awareness of the importance of recycling by tracking and recording a week's worth of trash at their school. Discovered that 30 percent of waste is recyclable.
- "St. Margaret Science Club"- St. Margaret Catholic School, Lake Charles, La.: In the absence of a curb-side recycling program in the community, students increased participation in recycling through the school's parent-teacher organization, school newsletter and school Web site.
The Lexus Environmental Challenge launched on Sept. 10, 2007, and concludes with the announcement of the finalist and grand-prize-winning teams on Earth Day, April 22, 2008. Challenge #2, "Water Works," had an entry deadline of Nov. 9, and Challenge #3, "The Air Factor," is currently underway with an entry deadline of Dec. 10, 2007.
In addition to the ongoing contest, the Lexus Environmental Challenge also includes educational materials designed by Scholastic to encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans into their classrooms to help teach students about the environment. For each challenge, the Web site (www.scholastic.com/lexus) has lesson plans and teacher instructions including questions to help guide a discussion about the current challenge topic, facts about the topic, and guidelines for a specific classroom project.
The Lexus Environmental Challenge is part of The Lexus Pursuit of Potential, a philanthropic initiative that generates $3 million in donations each year for organizations that help build, shape and improve children's lives.