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Students invited to enter Detroit Zoo’s Green Prize competition

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 5, 2020

 From left, Royal Oak-based Upton Elementary School fifth grade Eco Club members Fionna Xhemali, 11; Alexis Zimny, 10; Jasmine Chesterfield, 10; Belle Wadle, 10; Shania Scott, 10; and fifth grade teacher and club adviser Jennifer Vanevery pose with a polar bear statue at the Detroit Zoo April 23.

From left, Royal Oak-based Upton Elementary School fifth grade Eco Club members Fionna Xhemali, 11; Alexis Zimny, 10; Jasmine Chesterfield, 10; Belle Wadle, 10; Shania Scott, 10; and fifth grade teacher and club adviser Jennifer Vanevery pose with a polar bear statue at the Detroit Zoo April 23.

File photo by Sarah Wojcik

 Students at Willow Woods Elementary School in Sterling Heights won a Green Prize from the Detroit Zoological Society for their efforts to reduce plastic lunch waste.

Students at Willow Woods Elementary School in Sterling Heights won a Green Prize from the Detroit Zoological Society for their efforts to reduce plastic lunch waste.

Photo provided by the Detroit Zoo

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METRO DETROIT — In an effort to continue its Green Journey initiative and bring others into the loop, the Detroit Zoological Society recently launched its third annual Green Prize.

The competition encourages local students to develop sustainable solutions for their schools, with a $1,000 prize and a class trip to the Detroit Zoo awarded to the winning entry. The top three entries will be announced on Earth Day — April 22 — and be publicly showcased at the zoo.

Green Prize is open to all K-12 classes and green teams in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties. The Detroit Zoological Society hopes that students will think carefully about how to solve an existing environmental or sustainability issue at their school, such as incorporating renewable solar energy or eliminating plastic water bottles.

Entries to the competition must identify the issue; propose a solution; list the materials and labor needed to implement the solution; describe the positive impact of the solution on the environment; and submit a video, graphic or other method to portray the green journey.

“As a leader in environmental sustainability, we are committed to bettering the world for both humans and wildlife,” Manager of Sustainability Rachel Handbury said in a prepared statement. “This competition gives us the opportunity to encourage local students and schools in joining us on our ‘Green Journey.’”

Green Prize entries should be submitted to rhandbury@dzs.org by April 1. While the first-place winner will receive $1,000 toward their project and a class trip to the zoo, the second- and third-place winners also will receive cash prizes.

The top three entries will be showcased during GreenFest, the zoo’s celebration of Earth Day, which will take place at the Detroit Zoo May 10.

Past winning entries include Poupard Elementary School’s video to campaign for a water refill station; the West Bloomfield High School EARTH Club’s work to install solar panels and switch the science department to LED lights; Willow Woods Elementary School’s proposal to reduce plastic lunch waste by collecting it, showing it to children and parents to encourage reusables, and recycling it; and West Maple Elementary School’s proposal to build gardens to grow fruits and vegetables for their lunches.

Last year, the 11th annual Michigan Green Schools awards ceremony moved to the Detroit Zoo April 23. The ceremony honored 138 Oakland County schools that achieved green, emerald or evergreen status for students’ efforts to increase environmental stewardship.

Whitney Calio, the environmental program coordinator for Oakland County, said the county has the difficult task of selecting one school from each of the three categories that it feels did a little more and stood out from other applications.

“Each year, we receive so many great applications for the Green Schools program,” Calio said. “That was our hope as we brought the ceremony to the zoo, that we would get more students engaged and (it would be) kind of a reward for all of those green efforts.”

The Detroit Zoo is located at 8450 W. 10 Mile Road, west of Woodward Avenue.

For more information, visit www.detroitzoo.org or call (248) 541-5717.

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