​Algae: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…How Can You Keep Your Local Pond Healthy?

In recognition of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John J. Kim today celebrates the creativity and hard work of fifth and sixth grade students selected for their artistic and writing skills used to express environmental awareness, as part of the Agency's 33rd Annual Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest. The students were selected from works submitted by students throughout Illinois.

Each year, fifth and sixth grade students in Illinois take part in the Poster, Poetry and Prose contest as part of the Agency's Environmental Education initiative. Through the program, 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 and submit these to the Agency. Each participating school is eligible to select four works in each category to submit for competitive judging. This year's theme, Algae: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…How Can You Keep Your Local Pond Healthy? focused on understanding how algae affect waterbodies in both good and bad ways, and learning how to prevent nutrient runoff to help maintain healthy water ecosystems.

Educators were asked to incorporate Illinois EPA's newly created Environmental Pathways: Why is the Pond Green? unit into their classroom curricula that is available free online at: https://pathways.mste.illinois.edu/. Students learned how algae can be good and bad in the aquatic environment and why it is important to reduce nonpoint source pollution in our waterways to prevent the negative effects of too much algae. This curriculum unit is aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards.

"In celebration of Earth Day, we want to recognize these students who are poised to make a difference in their communities," said Director Kim.  "These students did a great job demonstrated the knowledge they gained through their works of art and writing. We are excited to see our Environmental Pathways program explored by so many schools and look forward to classrooms utilizing our newly released STEM curriculum in years to come."

Poetry/Prose Top Award Winners:



​Sydney Ahler
St. Giles Catholic School
Oak Park

Sophia Dai
Willows Academy
Des Plaines

​Karolina Kyrych
St. Monica Academy
Chicago

Jamie Laskiewicz
St. Emily's Catholic School
Mt. Prospect

​Wendy Patricio
Gemini MIddle School
Niles

Paul Wawczak
St. Giles Catholic School
Oak Park


Posters Top Award Winners:


​Noura Kazzo
Gemini Middle School
Niles


​Timothy Laskiewicz
St. Emily's Catholic School
Mt. Prospect

​Gavin Magnine
St. Monica Academy
Chicago


​Lilia Ransford
Gemini Middle School
Niles

Luke Reale
St. Giles Catholic School
Oak Park

​Chelsea
 Waiters
Calvin Christian School
South Holland


A panel of representatives from the Illinois EPA judged all entries and selected the finalists, whose entries were then judged by an outside panel of authorities, to determine the top 12 winners. Student awards were mailed to the schools, where the top 12 and honorable mention winners received environmental reference books for their school libraries. The winners, along with all finalists, also received certificates and ribbons for their creative efforts.  A complete list of winners by school can be found here

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.