By Eileen Hardy
Department for Energy Development and Independence
Kentucky National Energy Education Development (NEED) and Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools (KGHS) brought together over 200 students and educators to learn from, connect with and inspire each other during an annual youth summit on April 26, 2018 at the Lexington Convention Center.
The event showcased the best work by students to explore energy and the environment through science, technology, engineering and math projects. Students from 30 schools participated with projects in recycling, waste and water conservation, energy efficiency native plant habitats, and development of renewable energy recharging stations.
The event is supported in part through a state energy program grant that also supports the NEED project that provides energy education curriculum to K-12 teachers and students.
“I am so proud of the outstanding students participating in our Youth Summit,” said Karen Reagor, state director of the Kentucky NEED Project. “They amaze me every year. Their creativity and hard work to educate others and desire to make a difference is truly inspirational.”
Keynote speaker, Jeri Katherine Howell told the students that they are part of an interconnected, global web of life, and their actions impact that web. “There are many examples here today of human actions that can create healthy, positive changes for the environment. Your actions are important, your actions inspire others to act, your actions add up.”
Howell pointed out how the NEED and KGHS projects relate to environments at their schools as well as communities beyond Kentucky.
“By enacting ‘no idle zones’ you are decreasing carbon emissions and helping my grandmother in Frankfort, Kentucky who has asthma, breathe a little easier,” Howell said. “By recycling and planting native plants and trees, you are reducing erosion and creating healthier Kentucky streams. These streams flow into rivers which cross state lines, and ultimately, into our oceans—oceans that are home to millions of fish and plant life that are critical to cultures and economies in India, Maine, Brazil, South Africa, Canada, Louisiana, Alaska.”
The Kentucky NEED project presented top honors to six student-energy teams representing both public and private schools, with three schools selected to receive national-level awards for their exemplary leadership, energy knowledge and community involvement.
Representing Kentucky at the national awards event in Washington, D.C. are: St. Agnes School, Louisville, recognized for its energy research, education and outreach projects within the school and community.
Lexington’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts “Hydro Hero” energy team earned the national, junior rookie project of the year. The team’s project developed recycling programs within the school and greater Lexington community and reduced waste associated with disposable plastic water bottles.
Lloyd Memorial High School’s energy team is the national runner-up for a senior level project of the year. Its students educated the community about energy conservation by hosting outreach events, including a district-wide initiative to collect plastic to build ‘buddy benches’ for each school in the district.
“We thank all of the students, teachers and administrators for participating in the Kentucky NEED project and environmental education,” said Reagor. Through funding provided by the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, we are able to reach hundreds of schools and thousands of students.”
KGHS, a project-based program that uses the entire school building and grounds as a learning laboratory for students recognized 13 schools for their outstanding environmental education projects. KGHS is a program of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council and the Kentucky Department of Education.
“One of the most important things that conducting a Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools Project teaches the students are those 21st century skills like identifying a problem, thinking critically about what can be done, and working collaboratively with others to find the best solution. The process is as important as the project itself,” said Billy Bennett, Executive Director of the Kentucky Environmental Education Council. “One of the highlights of the summit for me is to watch the students as they explain their project to their peers and adults in attendance. Their excitement and sense of accomplishment is amazing!”
The 2018 Youth Summit schools earning top honors for their exemplary leadership, energy knowledge and community involvement included:
NEED Student Energy Teams Earning Top Honors:
Outstanding Project of the Year– Redwood Community School, Lexington
Rookie Project of the Year and National Outstanding Project of the Year – St. Agnes School, Louisville
Outstanding Project of the Year – Ockerman Middle School, Boone County School District
Rookie Project of the Year and National Outstanding Junior Project of the Year – SCAPA Bluegrass, Lexington
Outstanding Project of the Year and National Runner-up Project of the Year – Lloyd Memorial High School, Erlanger-Elsmere, Kentucky
Outstanding Rookie Project of the Year – Warren Central High School, Bowling Green. Kentucky
Other NEED student energy teams that participated in the Youth Summit at the elementary level were Old Mill Elementary, Bullitt County; Sacred Heart Model School, Lexington; Shepherdsville Elementary, Bullitt County; Southern Elementary, Fayette County; St. Martha School, Louisville and White’s Tower Elementary, Kenton County. At the junior and senior levels the schools that participated were North Middle School, Hardin County; Plano Elementary, Warren County; Tichenor Middle School, Erlanger-Elsmere Independent and Morgan County High School, Morgan County.
Kentucky Green and Healthy Schools Awards were presented to:
Model Kentucky Green and Healthy School award presented to DuPont Manual High School, Jefferson County Public Schools.
Kentucky Green and Healthy School recognition went to: the Academy for Leadership at Millcreek, Fayette County; Eminence High School, Eminence, Independent; Family Care Center, Fayette County; John Hardin High School, Hardin County; Kentucky County Day School, Louisville; Lloyd Memorial High School, Erlanger-Elsmere Ind.; McLean County Middle School, McLean County; Mercer County Senior High School, Mercer County; Ockerman Middle School, Boone County; Redwood Cooperative School, Lexington; Washington County High School, Washington County; and White’s Tower Elementary School, Kenton County.