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Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Chicago Academy of Sciences, Chicago, Illinois

Remarks of Governor Christine Todd Whitman,
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
at the
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Chicago Academy of Sciences
Chicago, Illinois

April 30, 2001

Thank you, Joe Schacter, for that welcome. It’s great to be here with you and with the students of the Reilly School.

I’m also glad to see Bill Abolt, commissioner of Chicago’s Department of the Environment, here today.

I look forward to working with him and the people of his department to make the air cleaner, the water purer, and the land better protected here in Chicago.

It’s no secret to anyone here that this museum is a real treasure for Chicago and the surrounding area.The opportunities you provide to children to learn more about nature and what each of us can do to protect it are really spectacular.

I am proud that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been a partner with this institution since 1992, providing funds and other support for the learning that goes on here.

It’s so important that our young people know that taking care of our environment is everyone’s responsibility – and that you’re never too young to start.

Every one of us has a responsibility to the Earth. We have to do our best not to pollute.

That includes everything from making sure we don’t litter, to recycling paper, bottles, and cans, to keeping things that can harm fish and plant life out of the water.

So I want to say to the students here today, be sure to do your part. If you’re just playing in the park and see some garbage on the ground, put it in a trash can.

Try to remember not to put things down storm drains, because they could end up in a river or lake. And don’t forget to recycle.

There are other ways you can help. Let me give you a few examples.

Last week at the White House, President Bush and I presented the President’s Environmental Youth Awards to 19 kids from around the country who have made a real difference for the environment in their communities.

Two of the winners were from Illinois – high school students who persuaded their school to use recycled paper.

Another group of winners were your age, kids from California who made a book and video about some of the dangers of indoor air pollution.

Our youngest winners this year were just first and second graders. They formed a club to keep their school playground clean and litter free.

These kids prove you can make a positive difference at any age – and I hope that’s what you’ll do with the grant I am awarding today.

Who knows, maybe some of next year’s winners are in this room today.
As you know, an important way to protect our environment is to save energy and to use alternative forms of energy – like energy from the sun.

Working together, the EPA, the Nature Museum, and the Chicago public school system are going to help you learn more about solar energy through an interactive project called Chicago Del Sol.

The Nature Museum is putting together a lot of fun projects, experiments, and web sites that will help you learn about how we can use power from the sun to help create power for our homes.

Experts here at the museum will also be teaching your teachers more about solar energy, so they’ll be able to help you learn.

Making sure kids know how important it is to protect our environment is an important part of our mission at the EPA.

By raising environmentally aware and concerned citizens, we help ensure that the environmental progress of the past 30 years will be met and exceeded by the environmental progress of the next 30 years.

The children in this room are the ones who are going to have to achieve that future progress. We have an obligation to prepare them to meet that responsibility.

That’s why I am so pleased to be able to present to Joe Schacter and the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum of the Chicago Academy of Science, this plaque that represents our grant for $22,700 for your Chicago Del Sol interactive solar energy project.

And Joe, don’t try to deposit that plaque in the bank – we have a check for you, too. Thank you.