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2010 June 25

region10_09When we started our project in a small town called Homer, Alaska, we had no possible notion of what we were actually getting ourselves into. We were simply four young teenage girls truly wanting to alter the way our town was living. We wanted to see change, both in family homes and the general public.

We got our local middle school lunchroom to switch from using polystyrene trays to reusable plastic trays. We also introduced a “Tin Bin” to our local landfill and we held a community-wide “Trash into Fashion” show.

Then we won the President’s Environmental Youth Award and suddenly we were going to Washington, DC, to accept our award. When we flew over Washington, DC, we all looked at each other and grinned. Even after the plane touched the ground we kept asking each other if this was really happening.

Soon enough it was the Awards Ceremony. As we walked through the Willard Hotel, I remember thinking I had never seen such a beautiful place. It was like a palace. Everything was gold. Before the awards ceremony, we got to talk with Lisa Jackson, the Administrator of EPA. She was authentically interested in what we did, and what we had to say.

The award ceremony itself blew my mind. We, as region 10, were the last to go up on stage. We were handed the largest plaque I’ve ever seen. Finally, it seemed to hit me that this was real. After that, there was a luncheon at which Mr. Philippe Cousteau talked about his work and of how he was trying his best to stop the oil spill in his own way. He was inspiring, completely and totally inspiring.

Finally, it was the day that we went to the White House to meet President Obama. All of the winners stood in front of the White House on risers (note: do not wear a black dress on a hot day if you are going to meet the president). He simply walked around the corner. He was sincere, talking to us as one completely normal person might talk to another, as if he had forgotten that he was the president, and was simply a friend. He talked of how great our accomplishments were, and also of how important it was that we didn’t stop here, that we kept going, because “we are the future”. Each and every winner shook his hand, and got to look him in the eye. I wanted to talk, to thank him for his hard work, to chat about the world, and to ask what being the president of the United States is like, but even if I had the chance, I don’t know if I would have been able to get the words out. I was in awe.

This has been something we, the members of EcoLogical, will remember for the rest of our lives. And as President Obama said, it doesn’t stop here. Thank you, everyone who has helped make this happen. It was a life-changing experience.

About the author: Hannah Baird is a middle school student from Homer, Alaska. Hannah, along with one high school student and two other middle school students, recently received recognition for their environmental EcoLogical project.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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13 Responses leave one →
  1. armansyahardanis permalink
    June 25, 2010

    Hi Hannah & Friends,
    Congratulation ya for your award !!!!
    If you wanted to see change, both in family homes and the general public; Please remember the motto “Small is Beautiful”. Bye….!!!

  2. William permalink
    June 25, 2010

    The filtering/ re-writing needs to become less obvious. Having never been a teenage girl, I may be wrong but I don’t think they would write “She was authentically interested in what we did, and what we had to say.”

    That seems very much like a press release from the previous administration … Just saying the tone lacks authenticity.

  3. Cyndi Hillier permalink
    June 25, 2010

    I congratulate you all on a job well done . I have been involved in environmental protection, endangered species, global warming and connecting people to nature ,for a while.I am actively involved in WWF, Greenpeace , and the David Suzuki society . We need more youth like you to be leaders and take responsibility . I encourage you to keep check on planet earth, and stay proactive .Thank you ,you have made my day .

  4. Norm Ledeboer permalink
    June 25, 2010

    I want to commend you and congratulate you all for your great concern for our environment. Keep up the good work and spread the word to others like you!

    I’m a retired engineer in Minnesota. Some years ago we started a “Retired Engineers Technical Assistance Program”, where we do energy assessments for schools churches and small business, to help reduce energy use and enhance recycle programs and reduce waste. The work you girls have done is very encouraging for our generation, as you are the future, as President Obama said.

    Thank you, Thank you! Norm L

  5. atics permalink
    June 26, 2010

    congratulations to you who have kept the living environment, we need people like you to keep the city to keep it maintained, surely you’re proud to be a concern from the president obama, keep fighting to preserve the environment thanks

  6. micha permalink
    June 26, 2010

    i am inspired by your blog
    i will share this with the family

  7. cliff permalink
    June 27, 2010

    Congratulations on your award

  8. Anonymous permalink
    June 27, 2010

    This is really great stuff. We need more programs and more engagement like we saw in this story. What students can do on their own initiative can be just as important and valuable as what they do in school as this story shows. But we need good schools with both highly dedicated teachers and highly dedicated students. Best wishes, Michael E. Bailey.

  9. Stan Shoemaker permalink
    June 28, 2010

    Awesome accomplishment girls. From Homer, Georgia We here at TAP Insulation Systems know that being green is what our world needs. I applaud you all for continuing to strive to make this country a better place.

  10. Mariaokao22 permalink
    June 30, 2010

    Great info! I am really interested in it. Thanks!

  11. Linda permalink
    July 1, 2010

    Great Job! Your work proves that change can start small but still be meaningful and inspiring. Do you have any photos from the “Trash into Fashion” show? I’d love to see what wonderful ideas you inspired. Good luck to you all and to Homer, Alaska in maintaining the changes you brought about!

  12. Jesús Torres Navarro permalink
    July 2, 2010

    Muchas felicidades a los ganadores, muy merecido el premio
    Que emoción haber ido a la Casa Blanca y más haber saludado y platicado con el Presidente Obama; creo que el también estubo muy emocionado
    A seguir adelante y que Dios los bendiga
    Felicidades a la EPA y en especial a la Directora Lisa Jackson por su excelente trabajo

  13. April 17, 2012

    I write a comment when I like a post on a site or I have something to add to the discussion. Usually it’s a result of the fire displayed in the post I read. And on this article EcoLogical | It's Our Environment. I was actually moved enough to write a thought :-) I actually do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind. Is it simply me or does it look like like a few of these remarks look as if they are left by brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing on other social sites, I’d like to keep up with you. Could you make a list all of all your shared sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

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