Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Director Alec Messina honored several fifth and sixth grade Illinois students as environmental pioneers during the Agency’s 31 st Annual Poster, Poetry and Prose awards presentation.  In celebration of Illinois’ Bicentennial, the contest theme was “Illinois is Celebrating 200 Years! How Can You Be an Environmental Pioneer?”  Student artists and writers were recognized today at a reception in the Old State Capitol building in downtown Springfield.

Today’s program is the culmination of the Agency’s Environmental Pathways program.  Through the program, fifth and sixth grade students at participating schools study environmental concepts with an emphasis on the current year’s environmental theme.  Many teachers round out the classroom program by having the students create posters or poetry/prose works to illustrate what they have learned.  Each participating school is eligible to select four works in each category to submit to the Agency for competitive judging in the Poster, Poetry and Prose contest.  This year’s theme focused on the importance of preserving and protecting Illinois’ air, land and water for the next 200 years.

“As we prepare to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow, it is fitting that we recognize these students, who are already taking an active role in protecting our environment,” said Director Messina. “I want to congratulate each of our winners today and thank them for their creativity and enthusiasm for the environment.  These students will set Illinois on a positive path forward to a safe and clean environment for the next 200 years.”

Poetry/Prose Top Award Winners:

Cassy Adorable

Washington Elementary School
Glenview

Kasey Gorman

St. Cletus School
La Grange

Seunghui "Lily" Ha

Franklin Middle School
Springfield

Alexander Osika

Washington Elementary School
Glenview

Claire Sullivan

The Willows Academy
Des Plaines

Noelle Terese Waldschmidt

Prince of Peace Catholic School
Lake Villa

Posters Top Award Winners:

Laurence Angelo Canunayon

Washington Elementary School
Glenview

Penelope Gumila

Washington Elementary School
Glenview

Michael Pister

St. Cletus School
La Grange

Elvin Rizvanovic

Washington Elementary School
Glenview

Amy Skolozynski

The Willows Academy
Des Plaines

Erik Stover

Prince of Peace Catholic School
Lake Villa

All submitted entries were first judged by a panel of representatives from the Illinois EPA.  Selected finalists were then judged by an outside panel of authorities to select the top 12 winners.

Today’s awards ceremony and reception recognized students named as the top 12, Honorable Mention, and Special Recognition.  The winners received certificates and ribbons for their creative efforts.  The students, their families and teachers participating in today’s awards ceremony and reception also enjoyed tours of the Old State Capitol.

A complete list of winners can be found here.  The winning entries will be on exhibit at Illinois EPA’s headquarters in Springfield through May 21 .

Information about the annual event can be obtained by contacting Kristi Morris, Environmental Education Coordinator for the Illinois EPA at 217-558-7198 or Kristi.Morris@Illinois.gov.