Earth Island News
Six Young Champions of the Earth
The 2001 Brower Youth Awards
Island Institute established the Brower Youth Awards to honor
environmental leader David R. Brower, who inspired generations of
environmentalists to administer CPR - Conservation, Preservation and
Restoration - to the Earth.
The first Brower Youth Awards were held in 2000, one month before Dave's death at the age of 88. Each year, six recipients - aged 13 to 23 - are awarded a $3,000 cash prize in recognition of projects ranging from campus organizing and habitat restoration to neighborhood cleanups.
And now, meet the winners.
Deland Chan, 16
New York, NY
Protecting Manhattan's Last Forest. The traditional definition of "environment" can be applied to New York City. There is a delicate balance between the natural ecosystems and the man-made "urban jungle," where the natural inhabitants - birds, animals and insects - must coexist with seven million humans. The Roots and Shoots project of the 92nd Street YMCA addressed the urban restoration of the Native Species Garden in Inwood Hill Park (the last nine acres of natural forest in Manhattan). The project also considered the impact of the environment on New Yorkers, especially children who have grown up with shades of pavement rather than shades of green.
The restoration of Inwood Hill Park is not yet complete but we have achieved the immediate goal of enhancing the habitat for native birds, butterflies and insects. The park flies in the face of urbanization. A piece of untamed land that previously screamed "neglect," now says, "We care!"
Angela Coryell, 19
An Oily Sky. Our film, "An Oily Sky," was a class project about the pollution of the Skykomish River from fuel spills that have been contaminating our soil and groundwater since the early 1900s.
Our film uncovered a problem that the railroad had been hiding. For years, oil has been seeping from an ancient railroad storage site located directly beneath our school. Our film is about the spill - its history, hazards and what is and isn't being done about the problem.
In creating this film, we caused a stir. Some new cleanup ideas have been discussed and decided upon because of our film, but little work has yet been done. We won an award at the Young People's Film Festival in Portland, Ore. and the Earth Heroes award for 2000.
Jared Duval, 18
Lebanon, New Hampshire
Great Hollow Wetlands. The Great Hollow Wetlands/Hannaford Supermarket project was an effort led by Students for a Sustainable Future, an organization that I founded, to prevent the construction of a 56,000 square-foot supermarket on wetlands adjacent to our school.
Walking around the proposed site, we saw many birds and deer firsthand and uncovered the tracks of black bear and red-tailed fox. Our campaign sought to preserve the wetlands not just for its scenic characteristics, but also for its intrinsic value as a wildlife habitat.
On May 14, the Lebanon Planning Board voted 4 to 3 to deny Hannaford Supermarket's request for site plan approval. Hannaford has appealed the decision, but for now we have won a major battle to save Great Hollow Wetlands.
Robert Fish, 23
Bar Harbor, Maine
Markets Campaign. The Markets Campaign is a national effort to use market power to target retailers of old-growth/endangered forest products.
Our campaign staged a non-violent blockade of Wickes Lumber in Bangor to protest its continued sale of lumber from International Forests Products (InterFor), which is logging British Columbia's Great Bear Rainforest - the largest intact temperate rainforest in the world.
After a year of work, College of the Atlantic became the first college in the US to pass a comprehensive wood and paper procurement policy. The policy calls on the college to purchase only 100-percent post-consumer, recycled paper and wood that is certified as sustainably harvested by the Forest Stewardship Council.
This campaign has resulted in the permanent preservation of 20 pristine rainforest valleys and logging deferrals in another 68 valleys in the Great Bear Rainforest.
Heidi Iravani, 18
Charlotte, North Carolina
Endangered Forests Market Campaign. I have had two goals regarding my involvement in forest protection - one as a community organizer and the other as a national organizer. I began working on a national level during my junior year of high school when I joined the main planning committee of the Markets Campaign to protect old-growth forests from the home development industry.
I was the main coordinator for the Southern actions in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as one of the key media coordinators and spokespersons.
Our goal was to use market campaigns to raise awareness about endangered forests and to build the environmental movement in Charlotte. We "adopted" a local Staples store and targeted it with direct action demonstrations that were covered on the evening news and in the local newspapers. We also raised awareness through flyers, postcards, teach-ins, call-ins and letter-writing. As a result, many members of our community have made large contributions to the national movement to protect forests from logging.
Grayson Schleppegrell, 13
Charleston, South Carolina
Swordfish Protection. I became captivated by the problem of the overfishing of swordfish when I was in fifth grade. I began to work with the Lowcountry office of Earth Force to convince local stores to reduce or stop selling swordfish.
When I became president of the local Earth Force Youth Advisory Board, I recruited and educated my friends so they could write letters to restaurants and grocery stores. I continued writing letters and emails worldwide asking companies for their cooperation. I rallied my fellow students to do the same.
After asking my father about farmers being paid by the government to allow their fields to lay fallow, I made the correlation between the fields as the ocean and the crops as the fish. Working with several other groups, my idea was presented to the US Congress where it was eventually enacted. I took charge of the operation to buy out long-liners. Three years after the school-based project ended, I am still actively involved.
On October 27, Grayson's father, Charlie Schleppegrell, died at the age of 46 from complications resulting from surgery. The Earth Island community extends our deepest sympathies to Grayson and the entire Schleppegrell family.