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Kenai student receives national recognition for creative environmental project

Release Date: 05/13/2009
Contact Information: Sally Hanft, EPA PEYA Coordinator, (206) 553-1207, Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, (206) 553-1203,

(Kenai, Alaska – May 13, 2009) Lincoln Wensely of Kenai, Alaska is this year’s first place winner of the EPA Region 10 President’s Environmental Youth Award. Wensely, a Kenai Central High School student, will receive the award from EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson at a ceremony today at EPA headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Wensely won the award for his “Caring for the Kenai” project which included innovative, multi-media educational materials aimed at raising awareness of the damage being done to the Kenai River and the nearby sand dunes.

Through partnerships with local government and community organizations, Wensely produced a three-minute educational movie about protection of the dunes. He also created a video public service announcement that was televised statewide throughout the fishing community, as well as local public service radio announcements.

Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA’s acting Regional Administrator in Seattle, congratulated Wensely and encouraged other young people to take action in their own communities.

“We applaud Lincoln and all of the other award-winning students for their commitment and enthusiasm,” Pirzadeh said. “These projects are models of the type of individual action and stewardship that is needed to take care of our treasured natural resources. Thank you and congratulations to Mr. Wensely.”

The City of Kenai credited Wensely’s project with fewer trespassing violations during the 2008 fishing season and less human-caused coastal erosion. After reviewing his project, the city passed an ordinance increasing the fine for trespassing on the dunes from $100 to $500 and assigned two officers to patrol the beach during the fishing season. The city is now considering other measures to protect the dunes, including year-round fencing and construction of raised walkways.

The President’s Environmental Youth Awards program encourages individuals, school classes, summer camps, public interest groups, and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness and positive community involvement. Each year, young people from around the country, kindergarten through high school students, are invited to participate in the awards program as individuals or in groups. The program has two components: the regional certificate program and the national awards competition. Regional certificates from the President of the United States are awarded by each of the ten EPA regions. Additionally, one outstanding project from each region is presented with a Presidential plaque at an EPA sponsored award ceremony.

For more information on Lincoln Wensely’s video, visit:
and click on “HOT TOPICS!” or to view the video go to

For more information on the President’s Environmental Youth Awards, visit:


EPA HQ’s News Release

EPA Recognizes Students From Across the Country for Contributions Toward a Healthier Environment

Winners Are from Alaska to New York

Contact: Enesta Jones, 202-564-4355 / 7873 /

(Washington, D.C. – May 13, 2009) EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson will recognize young people from across the country at the 2008 President’s Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) ceremony today. These students have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection through projects that help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and protect America’s waters.

“The President joins me in honoring these students for leading the way towards a brighter future for their communities and our planet,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “In each of these amazing projects we see our country’s future for clean energy, preservation, healthy communities and a well-protected planet.”

The 10 individuals or teams of students who will be awarded are from Derry, N.H.; Pittsford, N.Y.; Moscow, Pa; Lewisville, N.C.; Chesterland, Ohio; Edmond, Okla.; Scottsbluff, Neb.; Provo, Utah; San Leandro, Calif.; and Kenai, Alaska.

These dedicated youth developed projects in both urban and rural settings that involved hundreds of community members, educators, policy makers and national celebrities in environmental science research, community recycling, wetlands and coastal ecosystem education and restoration, energy conservation and climate change education campaigns.

Winners were selected from among applicants to EPA’s 10 regional offices. Regional EPA panels judged the projects on environmental need, accomplishments of goals, long-term environmental benefits and positive impact on local communities. The panels also consider project design, coordination, implementation, innovation and soundness of approach.

PEYA has been presented annually since 1971 to honor students in kindergarten through 12th grade who design and implement innovative environmental projects.

More information on winners and project descriptions: