Northern Nevada has no shortage of business competitions lately, largely focused on the environmental sector, including the new Nevada chapter of the Cleantech Open (“Open for business,” March 29), and several programs for university students (“Competitive edge,” April 19). On April 20, high school students got in on the action and competed in the second annual Growing Resources for Environmental Education in Nevada—GREENevada—sustainability plan competition. Students form teams to represent their schools, and present a plan to make their schools more sustainable, while focusing on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning. The event is a collaborative effort between educational nonprofit Envirolution, Black Rock Solar, Alliance for Climate Education, the Desert Research Institute’s GreenPower program, Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful, Sierra Nevada Journeys and Urban Roots Garden Classroom.
Last year, nine Northern Nevada schools participated. Thirteen schools were slated to compete this year, but 12 showed. (Douglas High School was unable to attend due to a time conflict.) A panel of 11 local leaders judged the competition, including Reno City Council member Dave Aiazzi, Nevada Land Conservancy operations director Sonya Hem Giroux and Be The Change Project co-founder Katy Chandler-Isacksen. Marnee Benson, deputy director of Black Rock Solar, MCed the event.
“You’re the leaders, and we’re really glad you’re here,” Benson told the students. “You’re going to help the world solve some of its biggest environmental problems.”
Nevada assemblyman David Bobzien also stopped by to give the students some words of encouragement.
“What you guys are doing is really important for two reasons,” said David Bobzien. “There is this whole movement … called STEM. You guys are on the forefront of that. And there’s a lot of pessimism … but green energy is the future of our state.”
Each team was given 12 minutes to present their plan, and the judges had five minutes to ask questions. The presentations addressed several stages of the plan—the problem, solution, plan, impact, budget and long-term goals.
The teams’ ideas often overlapped—several addressed different ways to combat excess waste, such as Wooster High Environmental Action Team’s (WHEAT) Waste Watch and a two-man team from Sage Ridge Eco Council. Other projects included community gardens to cultivate food for cafeterias and replacing school lawns with drought-friendly plants. While presenting, many students mentioned the sustainable efforts their schools were already making, such as building green houses, adding solar panels and wind turbines, and adopting single stream recycling.
Each school ended up taking home prize money. Hug High School received top honors and $5,000. Hug’s team, dubbed the Hug High Green Hawks Environmental Club, shared their plan to save their school $15,000 in energy bills. The Reed High Eco Warriors, which one first place and $12,000 in 2011, were awarded second place and $3,500. The Davidson Academy Green Earth Community Knowledge Organization (GECKO) group came in third place and was given $2,000. Sage Ridge, Wooster High and Truckee Meadows Community College High School all received $1,000 each. Rainshadow Community Charter High School and Sparks High were awarded $750, and North Valleys, Pyramid Lake, Spanish Springs and Bishop Manogue Catholic high school received $500 toward their sustainable projects.