Teenagers from Pearland, Katy and Houston, Texas, are among the national winners of the 2016 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality’s President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). The program recognizes outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth. These students demonstrate the initiative, creativity, and applied problem-solving skills needed to tackle environmental problems and find sustainable solutions.

 

 “Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make toward tackling our world’s broader environmental problems,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”

The seven Texas students received the award for starting an organization called We Care Act that refurbishes electronics and other items and sends them to needy children. The group’s founder, 16-year-old Eric Li of Manvel, Texas, was inspired to give back after a devastating earthquake hit the province of Sichuan, China, in 2008. 

Eric attends Glenda Dawson High School in Pearland ISD.

Eric and We Care Act’s other members—Toby Liu and Charles Wang, both 18, Melody Voo, 17, and Alexander Miao, 14, all from Pearland; Jimmy Liu, 16, from Katy; and Eric Tong, 15, from Houston—collect computers and other items. They refurbish the items and send them to areas where children are living in poverty or affected by natural disasters. 

So far, We Care Act has collected and reused more than 40,000 items and sent them to more than 20 countries. Founder Eric Li said the group enjoys helping those in need while preventing still-useful items from going to a landfill. 

Fifteen projects are being recognized this year, from 13 states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Nebraska, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington.

Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations.

This year’s PEYA winners conducted a wide range of activities, such as:

•           developing a biodegradable plastic using local agricultural waste product;

•           designing an efficient, environmentally friendly mosquito trap using solar power and compost by-product;

•           saving approximately 2,000 tadpoles to raise adult frogs and toads;

•           implementing a hydroponics and aquaculture project in a high school;

•           repurposing over 25,000 books;

•           creating an environmental news YouTube channel;

•           organizing recycling programs to benefit disaster victims and underserved community members;

•           reclaiming and repurposing over 4,000 discarded pencils within their school;

•           promoting food waste reduction;

•           creating a small, portable tool to prevent air strikes of migratory birds;

•           engaging their community in a program to save a threatened bird, the Western Snowy Plover;

•           testing grey water to encourage water conservation;

•           promoting bee health;

•           uniting their schools to address local environmental issues.

The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation's air, water, land and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation's youth.

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit https://www.epa.gov/education

Learn more about the We Care Act organization at http://www.wecareact.org

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit https://www.epa.gov/education