In recent years, there’s been a strong push to “go green” and find little ways to help care for our planet. At restaurants, diners are encouraged to use metal or paper straws, reusable shopping bags are now an accessory, and saving bees has become a hot-topic issue. But, as everyday people make small efforts to be more environmentally conscious, there are students across Washington who are working to make even bigger impacts. 

Broad View Elementary’s Green Club from Oak Harbor received the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) for grades K-5. In the grades 6-12  category, high school students from International Community School in Redmond/Sammamish were honorable mentions. 

The Broad View Elementary Green Club created the program “Worm Soup and Growing Green.” Some goals for the initiative were to reduce the waste from lunchtime, teach students about gardening, and spread kindness through their community. To achieve these goals, the club installed worm bins for student’s to compost scraps from lunch and switched the school to metal cutlery instead of plastic sporks.

From the soil made by the worm-bins, the club planted a garden with vegetables and flowers. The flowers were made into arrangements and given to a local retirement community. 

At International Community School, a small group of students started the BEEducated program to raise awareness about the declining bee population. In support of the National Pollinator Garden Networks goal of registering one million pollinator gardens, students planted a sustainable pollinator garden in Ebright Park with volunteers from the Washington Native Plant Society.

Students also made launch kits for schools to start their own pollinator gardens, which they are now using to work with six schools in King County. Additionally, students partnered with MIT developers to create an app to push awareness of the bees online. The app was sent to more than 700 donors and was downloaded across the nation. 

The PEYA program was created in 1971 through a partnership with the President of the United States and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The program recognizes and awards environmental projects from students in grades K-12 who aim to preserve and protect the nation’s resources and ecology.