Pourdre Learning Center’s ‘Caring for the Watershed’ contest recap

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From The Greeley Tribune (Dan England):

Tori Billings and Michael Masi recently won the first Caring for the Watershed contest hosted by the Poudre Learning Center, and their classmates Ailie Young, Megan Skees and Colin Jorgensen took second. The contest charged high school students to come up with a workable idea to help protect our watershed. This was not a competition that encouraged dreams, said Ray Tschillard, executive director of the Poudre Learning Center. One idea was to level Greeley and replace it with grass seed. Sure, that would be great for the watershed, but it’s not very practical Others simply encouraged recycling. Recycling is also a good thing for the watershed, but it’s not exactly original.

The Poudre Learning Center and Agrium, a company that produces fertilizers and other agricultural products, wanted feasible, original ideas because they wanted to see those ideas come to life once the students won their competitions. Agrium, in fact, gave out cash prizes for the winners with no strings attached. But the company also will match up to $1,000 in donations to get the ideas accomplished. Agrium also offers up the services of its own workers to help the students…

Billings and Masi, who won the competition for their plan to raise awareness about the proper disposal of pharmaceuticals, need to raise about $400. Young, Skees and Jorgensen need about half that. Agrium’s matching donation will take care of the rest.

Billings and Masi thought of the idea after a couple of news reports surfaced about the issue. Those medicines, they learned, were getting into the water supply, possibly harming those who get their drinking water from the rivers and streams that are polluted (and that would include just about everyone). They thought it fit perfectly with their lifetime goals as well as goals to care for the watershed. Billings wants to be an environmental engineer, and Masi wants to be a doctor. They hope to create flyers that will inform those who get their medications of the proper ways to dispose of them. They thought handing out the flyers with every prescription would help, but working through the national chains’ red tape is challenging, they said. “Now we are thinking we could get doctors to hand them a flyer along with the prescription,” Masi said. “They have to give you something anyway.”

Young, Skees and Jorgensen, who took second for raising awareness about aerated water fixtures, wanted something simple to save water and yet something that would be significant. “We wanted something that people could do without making a huge conscious decision to do it,” Jorgensen said. “They don’t even have to pick up the trash or something. Once they install it, it’s over, and they’re already saving water.” The city, in fact, already has free aerated water supplies available, so the students just want to create postcards informing the public of that. The postcards can be sent out with water bills…

Regardless of the results, Tschillard was encouraged by the number of students who learned about how a watershed works — and how to care for one. “Some students didn’t know what a watershed was,” Tschillard said, “and that mirrors our society. We don’t think like a watershed. We need to start thinking that way.”

More education coverage here.