Troy Athens senior Mandy Chu, left, presents her winning design for the Preserve MI Waters: Stormwater Manhole Cover Art Contest with Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, right.

Troy Athens senior Mandy Chu, left, presents her winning design for the Preserve MI Waters: Stormwater Manhole Cover Art Contest with Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash, right.

Photo provided by Brendan Lindberg


Athens student’s art to be featured all over county

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published May 12, 2022

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TROY — The artwork of a Troy Athens High School senior will be cast onto 50 manhole covers across Oakland County after winning the Oakland County Water Resources Commission’s Preserve MI Waters: Stormwater Manhole Cover Art Contest.

It was announced on April 14 that Athens student Mandy Chu’s artwork was selected and that, as the winner, she will receive a $1,000 scholarship from the commission and Pure Oakland Water, a Michigan not-for-profit organization dedicated to protecting Oakland County and regional water resources through public education.

“It feels great,” Chu remarked. “I am super honored my design was picked, and it’s a great opportunity to highlight the importance of environmental conservation.”

Chu submitted her design in March; it was selected out of 74 entries and will be cast onto 50 storm drain manhole covers, which will start appearing across Oakland County this summer.

“My design is a mallard amongst pond wildlife. I picked it because I see a lot of mallards around while I’ve been at Michigan lakes, so I thought it would be a good representation of the theme,” Chu said of her winning design.  “I thought it was really cool I could make something to represent Oakland’s wildlife and that it would be cast all over Oakland County and serve as a reminder to protect nature.”

Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner Jim Nash awarded Chu the scholarship and said he is encouraged that the next generation has already shown a huge interest and understanding the importance of environmental protection and preservation.

“The purpose of this contest was to bring awareness to the importance of managing stormwater and keeping pollution out of our storm drains in order to protect wildlife and promote recreational activities,” Nash said in a press release. “I believe this artwork will do just that.”

Board Chairman David T. Woodward, D-Royal Oak, and board Commissioner Gwen Markham, D-Novi, helped originate the idea for the contest and were present to show their support for the contest and Chu when Nash unveiled the stormwater manhole cover at the commission meeting April 14.

“Conservation and our dedication to protect our waterways runs deep throughout Oakland County,” Woodward said in a press release. “That dedication is embodied in the artistry of Ms. Mandy Chu. We look forward to seeing her design on manhole covers across the county, which will serve as a reminder of our shared purpose and commitment to protect our environment.”

“When we first started talking about this project, I knew that Oakland County’s young artists would seize this opportunity to leave their impression on our community,” Markham added. “Mandy’s design will serve as a reminder to protect our wildlife by keeping our drain systems free from pollution, and I look forward to seeing it around the county soon.”

Chu said this will not be the end of her efforts to protect and engage with nature, and she hopes this will help her be active on that front when she begins college this autumn.

“I do want to eventually pursue some sort of sustainability club or project in college,” she said. “I am a senior this year and will be going to the University of Michigan in the fall.”

She hopes she was able to play a part in encouraging people to live responsibly and be mindful of the need to care for the environment.

“We should just be mindful of how we are treating the environment while we’re out and to always take note of how we are making an impact on nature, even if it is just small actions,” Chu said. “Small actions can add up.”

To view the contest gallery, which includes all entries received, including Chu’s, visit https://bit.ly/3vlbuTr.

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