Planting Your Solution Contest Winners Announced
Seed Your Future and Scholastic have announced the winners of the Planting Your Solution Contest. Hundreds of middle schoolers across the country identified environmental challenges in their communities and proposed their own unique plant-based solutions to those issues. Entries included an illustration and an essay describing the environmental challenge and the proposed plant-based solution. A grand prize winner was selected in each of the contest’s three categories, and an additional Sweepstakes winner was drawn randomly from all entries.
Eighth-grader Keana H. from Bayard, N.M., received the grand prize for Challenge Identification by sharing her concern that “…smokestacks owned by the nearby smelter have polluted the soil throughout the town with heavy metals.… Even though the smokestacks have been removed … many yards still contain contaminated soil.” Her plant-based solution is to plant sunflowers because “…they aid in the process of phytoremediation, allowing all the heavy metals to enter the plant, leaving only good soil when removed for gardening and healthy grass.”
The contest was based on lesson plans and activities created by Seed Your Future and Scholastic, which were delivered to students inside and outside of the classroom. These materials are part of the BLOOM! campaign to educate and inspire young people about the power of plants and green-collar career opportunities.
Eighth-grader Barret J. from Holladay, Utah, proposed planting rapeseed to help with soil erosion. His grand prize-winning entry for Most Creative Use of Plants pointed out that in addition to helping with erosion, rapeseed “…also helps to enhance forage. It is also drought tolerant … and can be harvested for vegetable oil and protein meal, which would make it a profitable plant.”
The grand prize winner for Solution Identification, seventh grader Claire W. from Rockford, Ill., wrote that she wants to try to fix water pollution. Her plant-based solution is to plant water purifiers. “Bulrushes and rushes are excellent purifiers. They remove unwanted items from the water like oil and bacteria — E.coli and salmonella are some examples of bacteria. [They] also eliminate heavy metals such as copper, nickel and zinc.” Her local solution is to “…plant these all along the Rock River.”
Sweepstakes winner Allie F., a sixth grader from Perry, N.Y., offered a solution to the “cracked sidewalks and roads” in many communities. She proposes “…fill potholes and cracks with plants. We can find a plant mixture that can harden and fill in these holes. This will make it safer to ride your bike, go on a walk, and even ride in cars!”
“Youth have told us that they want to help solve some of the most pressing problems in our world today,” said Susan E. Yoder, executive director of Seed Your Future. “They hear about air pollution, noise pollution, food deserts, climate change, world hunger and more and they’re anxious to do something about it. The students who entered our contest offered inspiring solutions to the problems they see around them. They are our future green-collar workers — and the future looks bright!”