SOURCE: Lexus

April 16, 2008 12:15 ET

Holladay Students Win $150,000 for Environmental Action

Lexus Awards More Than $1 Million in Grants and Scholarships

HOLLADAY, UT--(Marketwire - April 16, 2008) - Three teams of students from Olympus Junior High School in Holladay will be celebrating this Earth Day. Not only have they done their part to protect the planet, they've also emerged as three of only 14 first place teams throughout the country who have each won $50,000 in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a national competition designed by Lexus and Scholastic to educate and empower teens to think big about possible solutions that could make a significant positive impact on the environment.

The three teams have earned a combined total of $150,000. Olympus Junior High School will receive a $30,000 grant, the teacher advisor will get a $15,000 grant, and each student team will receive $35,000 in scholarships to be shared by the members. Throughout the seven-month-long environmental education program and contest, more than $1 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded.

"When we introduced this challenge, we really had no idea what kind of programs the students would dream up," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "Well, now we know they're not afraid to dream big, and act on those dreams. We were amazed at all the teams' innovative ideas, their ingenuity and their pure passion for the topics they chose to address. It's exciting to see these young people discover their voices and learn they have the power to make a difference."

Olympus Junior High School's teams "Radon Awareness Group," "Save Our Fresh Water," and "The Tree Huggers" focused their Final Challenge efforts on the adverse effects of radon gas, water conservation, and electricity conservation, respectively.

Increasing awareness about the adverse effects of radon gas and encouraging people to take action was the goal of the six students who comprised "Radon Awareness Group." They targeted contractors because they have the power to fix a radon problem before it becomes serious. The team created an awareness video for YouTube and also developed both a blog and a presence on MySpace. Additionally, the team spread their message through the media and by distributing posters to businesses.

"Save Our Fresh Water" consisted of five students who worked to educate people about the importance of conserving water. To spread the word, the team made a video for YouTube, launched a Web site, made and distributed fliers and posters, and worked to obtain media coverage.

The five students on the "The Tree Huggers" team worked to get at least one million people by Earth Day committed to turning off lights when not in use. In addition to developing a Web site and video, the team also contacted many environmental groups, school districts and politicians to help spread the word.

"This project has truly been a life-altering experience for both me and my students," said JoAnne Brown, the team's teacher advisor. "For me, it is the first time in 10 years of teaching that I have seen my students engaged and passionate about helping our community and making a difference for the environment. Instead of me reminding them to conserve and help the environment, they come to me with new ideas and exciting discoveries. Seeing 120 7th and 9th graders take this challenge to heart has been mind-boggling."

The final winners were selected from 55 teams that qualified for this Final Challenge by winning in one or more of the four previous Challenges that were held from September to February. These initial Challenges, addressing land, air, water and climate, asked teams to take a stand for the environment in their local community and winning teams in these categories each won $3,000. The Final Challenge required teams to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that were communicated to a wide audience.

The Lexus Environmental Challenge will enter its second year in fall 2008. Teachers and students are encouraged to visit www.scholastic.com/lexus to view all the winning entries and to learn how they can take part in next year's program.

Contact Information