AIR QUAILITY, ECO-FRIENDLY EDUCATION PROJECTS WIN PRIZES
For a casual spectator, this past weekend’s Earth Day Texas was a bombardment of earth-friendly solutions and “green” companies, engaging speakers, and live music.
Indoor booths dispensed information on everything from feral hogs to the giant pile of trash in the middle of the ocean. Outside, people waited in spiraling lines for the chance to peek inside eco-friendly “tiny houses” with names such as “Whittle Wagon” and “The Best Little House in Texas.”
For many, though, this year’s new Earth Tank challenge, which featured environmental organizations pitching their eco-friendly ideas to a panel of judges, was Earth Day Texas’ main event.
The competition, a collaboration between Earth Day Texas and the Dallas Festival of Ideas, consisted of three revenue-based categories.
For organizations with a revenue greater than $0 but less than $100,000, the prize was $3,000. Finalists included Downwinders at Risk, Rainforest Partnership, and Texas Campaign for the Environment.
And for those with a revenue greater than $500,000 the prize was $15,000. Finalists were Citizens’ Climate Education Corp., Compatible Lands Foundation, and the National Wildlife Federation.
Each organization was required to pitch a project with environmental benefits and a focus on one of five city areas: literacy, health, education, entrepreneurship, or downtown/suburban jobs.
On Sunday, each finalist gave a short presentation and left the judges to deliberate. The judges included David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society; Will Rogers, president and CEO of The Trust for Public Land; Darryl Ratcliff, artist-in-residence of Trans.lation Vickery Meadow; John Mead, the Eugene McDermott Master Teacher Chair in Science at St. Mark’s School of Texas; Salah Boukadoum, founder of Impact City; Lisa Hembry, president and CEO of Literacy Instruction for Texas; and Ron Stelmarski, design director for Perkins + Will Texas.
Here’s a look at this year’s winners:
Downwinders at Risk, a citizen-action group devoted to clean air issues in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, picked up the first-category prize for $3,000. The organization’s proposal focused on purchasing and utilizing an airborne drone to monitor air quality. Judges were impressed by the direct impact of the solution, and judge Will Rogers called the idea the “best combination of presentation, strategy, and content. Scalability, public engagement with an innovative solution that fills a critical gap—and the $3,000 will make a difference.”
Trinity Environmental Academy, the South Dallas charter school that aims to teach children about nature through its unique, environment-focused curriculum, took the $7,000 second-round prize. The academy’s pitch, which contained detailed sample graphics and tables with timelines and costs, centered on its creation of an “exceptional outdoor space” that features outdoor learning and shipping container classrooms. Judge Ron Stelmarski called the school’s efforts the creation of a much-needed “eco-ethos.”
National Wildlife Federation claimed the $15,000 prize with its proposal on the declining monarch butterfly population. Specifically, the organization plans to use the Earth Tank prize money to support its Monarch Network efforts in Dallas and help implement Monarch Heroes, a program that engages students to create habitats for butterflies at their schools across Dallas ISD.
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