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Roaring Fork Valley students honored for environmental efforts

Staff report
Aspen High School Earth Group, led by science teacher Travis Moore, celebrate their Changemakers Challenge win on May 4.
Courtesy photo

The Community Office for Resource Efficiency, Clean Energy Economy for the Region, and the city of Aspen recently announced the winners of the Changemakers Challenge, a new social-media contest activating high school communities of the Roaring Fork Valley to save energy.

More than 1,900 valley youth participated in the program, attending assemblies with hip-hop artist/climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez and competing in the contest by posting 704 energy-saving actions on social media during a two-week period in April. Aspen, Glenwood Springs and Roaring Fork high schools participated, along with students from Bridges High School, Colorado Rocky Mountain School and Yampa Valley High School.

Aspen High School won the top prize, earning a $2,000 scholarship for a graduating senior going into an environmental field of study or work, as well as grants for the school’s Earth Club.

One in four AHS students participated in the contest, along with dozens of teachers whose efforts, while they didn’t count toward the award, encouraged students by leading through example. With images and videos, AHS students registered 461 actions on Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat to demonstrate their energy-saving habits. Actions included carrying a reusable bottle or mug, riding their bikes to school and composting.

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“Our goal was to help foster the next generation of environmental stewards, and our valley’s youth have clearly shown us they are up for the challenge,” said Mona Newton, executive director of CORE.

Student winners, who each earned a $50 Amazon gift certificate and a signed copy of Martinez’s book, “We Rise,” included:

First place: Cole Petersen, Aspen High School

Second place: Chelsea Moore, Aspen High School

Third place: Maya McDonough, Aspen High School

Fourth place: Chelsey Serrano, Roaring Fork High School

Fifth place: Izzy Knaus, Roaring Fork High School

Honorable Mention recognition went to:

Finlay Roberts, Glenwood Springs High School

Wyatt Smetzer, Colorado Rocky Mountain School

Organizers, who created an energy literacy curriculum to accompany the contest, hope the students’ environmental habits will stick and plan to make this an annual contest. The Aspen High School Earth Group plans to use its grant to fund a campaign to support reusable water bottles (instead of the single-use variety) at the school’s graduation ceremony next month.

The Changemakers Challenge was co-presented by CORE, CLEER, the city of Aspen and the Environment Foundation, founded by employees of Aspen Skiing Co. Support also was provided by Marble Distillery Inn and Earth Guardians. More information is available at http://www.change makerschallenge.com.


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