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Washoe County High Schools Compete for a Greener Tomorrow



Students put their creative and analytical skills to the test in hopes of winning $28,000 to implement Sustainability Plans for their schools

Nine teams of students from Washoe County High Schools will present Sustainability Plans to a panel of select judges at the University of Nevada Reno from 1-5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22. The winners of GREENevada’s 2011 High School Sustainability Plan Competition will be determined on the 41st Anniversary of Earth Day.

Beginning in November 2010, students worked with school advisors and competition sponsors to assess their individual campuses for environmental and economic sustainability, including conducting energy audits, analyzing consumption, and evaluating opportunities for improvement.  Students then developed plans to reduce their school’s environmental impact.

Winning schools will be given awards totaling $28,000 to help fund their plans. Prize money was provided through a Pepsi Refresh Challenge Grant won by GREENevada with voter support during a nationwide competition last fall.

“I hope we can have a greener school because climate change isn’t good for the world,” said John Dewald, a 15-year old student at Sage Ridge School. “If we do implement our plan we will really turn everything around (at our school).  I think we have a chance to cut down on our carbon footprint, and it would be great to do that!”

Without giving too much away, Dewald says he and his teammates are focusing on redirecting students to be more environmentally conscience though solar energy, school recycling and waste reduction.

Teams from The Academy of Arts, Careers, and Technology, Davidson Academy, Rainshadow Community Charter High School, Sage Ridge, and Hug, McQueen, Reed, Sparks, and Wooster High Schools have all developed detailed plans to transform their schools to be more environmentally committed and economically sustainable.

These teams will be competing in front of distinguished judges:

  • Christine Cheney, Dean of the UNR College of Education
  • Bruce Deetken, WCSD Energy Manager
  • Jill Derby, Former Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Regent
  • Jason Geddes, City of Reno Environmental Services Administrator and NSHE Regent
  • Alan Gertler, Desert Research Institute
  • Jeff Healion, NV Energy
  • Steve Hull, Washoe County School District
  • Morgan Tiar, Operations Director for Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful
  • Matt Tuma, Regional Representative for Nevada Senator Harry Reid

“This project is giving students an unprecedented opportunity to have a say in the way their school approaches environmental protection and sustainability,” said Alan Gertler DRI Exec. Director of the Center for Clean Technologies and Renewable Energy. “I’m impressed with their commitment, and given all that is going on with our educational system in regards to budget cuts, this demonstrates the importance of maintaining support for science education and what can be gained by encouraging student involvement.”

GREENevada, or Growing Resources for Environmental Education in Nevada, is a coalition of non-profit organizations including the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), Black Rock Solar, Envirolution, GreenPower (a partnered program between DRI and NV Energy), Sierra Nevada Journeys, and Urban Roots Garden Classrooms. GREENevada is committed to making schools more sustainable, and believes every school can be green and every child can learn global responsibility through local example.

“GREENevada is transforming the way students learn by encouraging them to combine their imaginations with practical applications for improving the sustainability of their schools,” said David Gibson, GREENevada founding team member and Envirolution Community Services Director.

During the past three months, GREENevada partners met with students at each school to teach them about solar power, climate change, leadership, energy efficiency, and the value of locally grown food. GREENevada partners also participated in a full-day training session for teachers hosted by GreenPower.

Editor’s Note: The competition is taking place in room 2030 of the William Raggio Building on the UNR campus.

Schedule of Events:

1 – 1:15 p.m. – Welcome, overview, introduction of judges
1:15 – 3:45 p.m. – Presentations from each school, 15 minutes each (including time for questions)
3:45 – 5 p.m. – Judges’ deliberation
5- 5:30 p.m. – Awards presentation, including distribution of  $28,000 in funding to projects

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