Young Eco-pioneers

Action For Nature’s 2009 International Young Eco-Hero Award has been awarded to four young high school students who have taken the future into their hands through their impressive work on environmental issues. The students’ initiatives include an open-air classroom, a program to reduce deforestation in southern India and a research project into the health impact of air purifiers.

As a high school freshman in Massachusetts, Sam Levin raised the money to plant a school garden, which, in its first year, produced 1,000 pounds of organic produce. The produce was used in five trial school lunch programs, as well as given to underprivileged families in the area. With his ongoing project entitled ‘Project Sprout’, he aims to provide all the vegetables for school cafeterias in the district. Sam spoke at the Terra Madre 2008 meeting in Italy to a crowd of more than 8,000 proclaiming that: ‘We will be the generation that will reconcile people and the land.’

Siblings Adarsha Shivakumar and Apoorva Rangan from San Francisco have developed a program to reduce deforestation in southern India, where many villagers burn large amounts of wood to cure the tobacco leaves they grow. Fuel is in short supply, and merchants who illegally cut trees in national parks often supply the wood. The pair started a pilot project, convincing two organizations to collaborate with them, to assist farmers to convert from tobacco to biofuel crops using the Jatropha species, a native South American plant that can grow in arid conditions and can be processed to high-grade fuel.

Also from California, seventh grader, Otana Jakpor designed and implemented eight experiments to test the impact of air purifiers on human health and discovered some alarming results. Finding that some purifiers emitted levels equal to Stage 3 smog alerts, Otana shared her results with the California Air Resources Board, who invited her to testify at a hearing that included lawyers from ozone generating manufacturers. Following this, regulations were put into place and California is now the first state to regulate ozone generators.

Action For Nature is an environmental, education and advocacy non-profit that encourages young people to take personal action to nurture and protect a healthy environment on which all life depends.

Source: Environmental Protection

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