Polar Bears International announced the winners of the Project Polar Bear Contest.

© Polar Bears International

4/22/2016 8:30:00 PM

Winners in Project Polar Bear Contest

Bozeman, MT (April 22, 2016) - Polar Bears International (PBI), a conservation group dedicated to sustaining a future for polar bears, announced the winners today in its Project Polar Bear Contest, a five-month-long competition that challenges teams of young people to design and carry out long-lasting community projects that reduce CO2.

Marissa Krouse, programs manager at PBI, and Kathy Donahue, Project Polar Bear coordinator, announced the winners in a special ceremony from SeaWorld San Diego as part of PBI's Earth Day celebration.

"It is essential that we engage youth throughout the world to encourage their interest, creativity, and enthusiasm, and to help them develop skills to carry out sustainable community projects," said Donahue. "This year, participants from the U.S., Canada, and Spain took part, ranging in age from pre-school to high school students. The kids were creative and enthusiastic and so were their mentors. They encouraged the students to overcome challenges to make their projects successful."

A panel of contest judges chose the winners, awarding cash grants to the top-scoring teams to help them carry on their projects: 

"We had a lot of great entries, which made it hard to choose," said Krouse. "The judges based their final decisions on how successful and creative teams were in engaging their communities, and on their plans to sustain their projects and build upon what they've already achieved. It's important for all of us to look for ways we can make a difference beyond our own households. Collective action with groups of people is a step in the right direction for meaningful action on climate."

The top-scoring teams were:

Water Savers
The Maryland Zoo
Baltimore/Hamilton, Maryland
$750 grant award 

The Water Savers team focused their efforts on resource conservation at The Maryland Zoo, including encouraging visitors to switch from single-use plastic water bottles, which require fossil fuels in their production. They wrote letters to the zoo's concessionaire to convince the company to discontinue the sale of bottled water and to sell refillable water bottles instead. They posted signs at each concession stand encouraging guests to choose reusable bottles. They also placed signs with graphics in appropriate areas throughout the zoo. These signs discussed drought, encouraged water conservation in hand-washing areas, explained how guests can use rain water/grey water at home to water their gardens, and explained the effects of runoff (from lawns, parking lots, and zoo animal exhibits) on waterways. In each public restroom, they posted signs containing water-saving facts and tips. 

Daina Isard
Daina-Isard Cooperativa d'Ensenyament SCCL
Olesa de Montserrat (Barcelona), Spain
$500 grant award

The Daina Izard team consisted of pre-school through high school students. The younger ones planted, maintained, and harvested school vegetable gardens using ecologically sound pest management. They maintained a vermicomposting box with Californian worms in charge of munching kitchen waste like salad, carrots, and tomatoes. They also used wax worms or mealworms to eat plastic bags. The older eco-gardeners compared the gardens yields with and without compost and helped the younger ones with gardening chores like scarecrow building. The oldest group of eco-scientists was in charge of measuring and surveying the gardens, checking the temperature, humidity and the ph level in the vermicomposting box, and recording plant growth in Excel. They also calculated how much CO2 was saved by not burning garden waste or by hauling it to the dump. 

Sea Knights
North Andover High School
North Andover, MA
$350 grant award

The Sea Knights team reduced carbon dioxide emissions by creating a garden with fruits, vegetables, and spices at a community assisted living/nursing home and involving interested residents in joining a gardening group. They began planting the gardens in their classroom until the weather was mild enough for the elderly residents to participate outside. They are actively searching for more ways to expand the program. 

PBI holds the Project Polar Bear Contest each year in conjunction with green clubs, community groups, and schools in addition to its network of Arctic Ambassador Centers, which includes more than 40 leading zoos, aquariums, and museums. Registration for the next Project Polar Bear Contest will open this fall. Follow PBI on social media or visit their website for announcements on the next contest. 

About Polar Bears International
Polar Bears International is dedicated to conserving polar bears and the sea ice they depend on. Through media, science, and advocacy, we work to inspire people to care about the Arctic, the threats to its future, and the connection between this remote region and our global climate. Discover interesting facts, world-leading research, and ways to help polar bears at www.polarbearsinternational.org.

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