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Cedar Falls, Iowa, 12th Grader Wins 2022 President’s Environmental Youth Award

Iowa student’s public service announcement promotes LED light bulbs and energy reduction

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LENEXA, KAN. (JULY 5, 2022) – Cedar Falls, Iowa, 12th grader Klaertje Kiyora Hesselink has been awarded the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). Klaertje developed a public service announcement (PSA) that encourages the switch from incandescent to LED light bulbs. The radio PSA has reached thousands of listeners in Klaertje’s community and inspired her fellow students to begin planning for a community-wide LED conversion program.

PEYA and Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) recipients are announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

“The tradition of excellence in environmental education continues with this year’s winners and I am so proud of their efforts to tackle the most pressing environmental challenges we face,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “I’m happy to celebrate the climate action and environmental stewardship work of the dedicated youth and educators who are leaders in their classrooms and communities. Environmental education is one of the most important tools in our work to protect the environment and combat the climate crisis.”

“We applaud Klaertje’s environmental stewardship and use of digital media to provide outreach to her local community on an easy and affordable way to reduce their carbon footprint,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meghan A. McCollister. “Congratulations and thank you to Klaertje for inspiring fellow Iowans to ‘Convert to LED and Save!’”

Learn more about Klaertje’s project (see EPA Region 7).

Background

The PEYA was established by the Environmental Education Act of 1970 and recognizes outstanding, community-level environmental projects by K-12 youth that promote awareness of natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Each year, PEYA honors a variety of local projects developed by students, school classes, summer camp attendees, and youth organizations to promote engagement in environmental stewardship and protection.

The PIAEE was established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act and seeks to recognize, support, and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects performed by teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning in K-12 education. CEQ, in partnership with EPA, administers this award.

From across the country, 13 educators and 49 students were recognized for their leadership and commitment to environmental education and environmental stewardship.

This year, 11 educators received the 2022 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and two educators were recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Winning educators demonstrated leadership by integrating environmental education into multiple subjects and using topics such as climate change, waste management, water quality, wildlife conservation, STEM education, and school gardens.

Additionally, 47 students who worked as a team or individually on 10 projects received the President’s Environmental Youth Award; two students received honorable mentions. Their stewardship projects, conducted in 2021, display a commitment to advancing community garden efforts, protecting pollinators, reducing pollution, conserving water and energy, reducing food waste, and combating climate change.

To read about the winning projects in detail, visit the PEYA and PIAEE pages.

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Author: Region 07

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