Vermont High Schools Win $5,000 in Grants for Environmental Projects as Part of JSC's Annual Greening Summit

Johnson State College hosted its sixth Greening Summit on April 5 in Bentley Science Center. Eight teams from nine Vermont high schools competed to secure an overall $5,000 in grant funds for implementing innovative environmental projects at their schools. For the first time, the summit was recorded for later broadcast by Green Mountain Access TV, a non-profit public station in Hyde Park.


The grand prize went to a high school team from Lyndon State College's Upward Bound (UB) program. The students presented a proposal to set up aquaponics test systems at Lyndon Institute, including one in the school's greenhouse. Second place went to the Castleton State College UB team, whose plans included composting systems, solar panels and rain gardens. Third place went to the Missisquoi Valley Union High School team, which produced glycerol soap as a biodiesel manufacturing byproduct. The MVU students also won the "creative presentation" competition for their hands-on demonstration, which allowed judges to try out the soap product.

 

The annual summit is co-sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose staff member served as one of the judges. In a letter to the students, Sanders wrote that he was "encouraged by the enthusiasm" displayed at the Greening Summit and that he is "always impressed by the ... well-researched, concrete plans" submitted by students each year. He also addressed students in a video. Additional speakers included JSC President Barbara Murphy; David Bergh, dean of student life and college relations; and Leslie Kanat, professor of geology.

 

Besides the three top prize winners, additional teams came from the University of Vermont UB program as well as Enosburg Falls, North Country Union and Mount Mansfield Union high schools. Students used PowerPoint and Prezi formats, poster displays and engaging skits to underscore the key points of their proposals; they received individualized feedback from Frances Huessy, a senior technical writer with Vermont Energy Investment Corp. The teams also competed in an Eco-Quiz, which allowed them to win extra prizes.

 

Prizes ranged from $200 to $2,000, thanks to a grant from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust. The Summit also has benefitted over the years from grant monies supplied by the Vermont Community Foundation's Green Mountain Fund. As a result, all competing teams will be able to implement at least a portion of their proposals at their high schools next year.

 

For more information on the summit, contact summit director Russ Weis, 802-635-1492 or russell.weis@jsc.edu.