This Earth Day, a select group of students will be awarded for being the best in the country in regard to their stellar environmental efforts. SeaWorld and Busch Gardens will award the 2010 winners of its annual Environmental Excellence Awards awards Thursday evening during a Serengeti Night Safari at Busch Gardens. Jack Hanna will present the awards.
The inventive entries included creations such as:
-- A robot who collects garbage from the ocean, engineered by a high school science club
-- A system that turns waste cooking oil from restaurants into biofuel to heat homes for needy families, developed by a middle school group
-- A K-12 campus that processes paper and plastic, all according to industry standards, and runs a profitable business in doing so.
The award program recognizes the outstanding efforts of K-12 students and teachers across the country working at the grassroots level to protect and preserve the environment. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment awards each winning group $10,000 to further their environmental efforts -- plus a fun and educational trip to Busch Gardens Tampa, where they will feed giraffes by hand, meet rhinos up close, and learn about conservation initiatives supported by SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.
SeaWorld and Busch Gardens have awarded nearly 160 winning schools and/or organizations and almost $1.8 million dollars as part of this program since its inception 17 years ago.
An award for Educator of the Year and $5,000 was also presented to Cindy Suchanek of Mira Loma High School in Sacramento, Ca. for her tireless efforts to teach environmental responsibility to her students.
The 2010 winners are:
The Carlton J. Kell High School Robotics Team, Marietta, Ga.
Project Name: Applied Robotics for Marine Sustainability
Students developed a robotic watercraft designed to pick up marine debris and garbage in lakes and oceans.
Westerly Middle School Innovations Network, Westerly, R.I.
Project Name: Turn Grease into Fuel
This team created a sustainable project where waste cooking oil is collected from restaurants, refined into biofuel, then distributed to families in need to heat their homes.
Pacifica 4-H Club, Pacifica, Ca.
Project Name 4-H Million Trees Project
This group participated in an international service project inspiring up to 6 million 4-H youth to plant trees in their communities in order to help slow global climate change.
Mira Loma High School, Sacramento, Ca.
Project Name: Arcade Creek Project
This group conducts a research project, now in its eighth year, on the Arcade Creek with the purpose of removing invasive species and keep watershed clean and natural.
Learning Without Limits Science Club, Iowa City, Ia.
Project Name: Lead Wheel Weights: Unregulated Hazardous Waste
This group raised awareness about the dangers of toxic lead wheel weights in vehicles, presenting data that could help phase out hazardous material in the tire industry.
Purdy High School Spanish Club, Purdy, Mo.
Project Name: The Purdy Recycling Project
For the past four years, students on this K-12 campus have processed paper, metals, cardboard, plastic and Styrofoam, all according to industry standards, allowing them to run a profitable business.
Niceville High School, Niceville, Fla.
Project Name: NaGISA N.W. Florida High School Initiative
This group conducts extensive studies on marine life in their area, from the beach to twenty meters off the shore, with the goal of keeping the ocean eco-system pure.
Fayette Academy Ecology Club, Somerville, Tenn.
Project Name: Think Globally, Act Locally
This group takes part in hands-on environmental studies, calculating the health of three water systems, with the goal of energy conservation and a “greener tomorrow.”