Ohio

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GROW DON’T THROW

2019, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES
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In Wyoming High School’s AP Environmental class, students learned about the watershed and entered a citywide watershed contest. This project challenged individuals to generate and implement an idea that would benefit their watershed. One group, composed of students, Jenny Lewis, Stella Dionysiou, and Carla Unzueta had a goal of building a compost bin for their high school or one of the primary schools in their location. Unfortunately, the initial plan was rejected by the schools, so they began to think about another way they could implement a bin into the community.

In the end, the group constructed a compost bin for a neighborhood in Wyoming Ohio. This was done in an effort to reduce household food waste and educate children and adults alike about the importance of recycling nutrients and environmental sustainability. By composting, people can decrease waste in landfills that contributes to greenhouse gases such as methane. Such gases can expedite global warming and pollute both the atmosphere and the water in communities. Additionally, compost can also help to save water, prevent erosion, and create a rich humus-soil that can be used in gardens.

Creating the bin proved to be more difficult than expected. After transporting long wooden planks and chicken wire into their backyards, the group was tasked with the process of construction. First the wood was cut and measured to the appropriate size. Next the planks were drilled to the posts of the bin with an electric drill. This took several attempts, as the wood proved to be quite hard to drill through. Finally, the chicken wire was stapled to the inside of the bin using a staple gun. After six hours of hard work, the bin was complete!

After the bin’s completion, the girls contacted neighbors about the bin’s construction and informed them of its role as a compost bin for the neighborhood. The neighborhood children were invited over to view the bin and learn about its function in recycling waste and were informed about what could go in the bin. Encouraged by their small victory, the students hope that their efforts will encourage others to follow in their footsteps. Their efforts have already inspired another compost project in Wyoming.

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SAVING SAINT CLARE STREAM

2019, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES
Stream
Abby Shores noticed a problem with a local stream in her community. The stream, which she calls St. Clare stream, runs through a three by one half block wooded area behind her house. It eventually connects to the Mill Creek. This area is owned by a local convent and includes a five-foot City of Wyoming easement. Unfortunately, it had been neglected due to its small size and isolated location. This lack of caring led it to be abused by illegal dumping, littering, and general misuse.

Abby created an immediate solution to turn the area from an abandoned dump to a community greenspace. She collaborated with local officials at the City of Wyoming to install a trash can on their portion of the property. This trash can not only prevented litter, but served as a symbol of her community and city’s commitment to the area. Because of her hard work the trash can has been put on the city’s weekly pickup route. She estimates the trash can will reduce litter by up to 56%.
Stream

The second part of her project was designing a cleanup day of the stream. This promoted community outreach and a greater unity among neighbors. She went door to door mobilizing volunteers and utilized social media to spread the word. During the cleanup day they removed almost 300lb of waste from the stream. This included everything from aluminum cans to iron construction beams. She hopes this cleanup day inspired others to hold events in the area. It showed how greater use of a space promotes long term environmental sustainability. Even though the stream is small, its revitalization served as an example to other municipalities.

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RETHINK RECYCLING

2019, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES
Recycling
Trisha Leyda, Megan Glass, Ally Zwelling, and Isabella Richardson realized that improper recycling habits, especially in public places, is a problem. They came up with a solution to create signs that are easily understood and catered towards the location they are placed in in order to educate the community. Their high school, Ursuline Academy, had tried to improve recycling while at school, but the system was flawed. The paper recycling bins were old crates and paper would often fall from the holes. The signs were difficult to understand because they used only words. People would not follow the signs and then non-recyclable items would end up in the bins contaminating the recyclable items. There was a lack of consistency and communication throughout the school about recycling.

The solution to this issue was to educate the community through a competition and revamping of the recycling system at Ursuline. This began as a two part process, with old crates being replaced with new blue recycling bins, then informative signs being attached to clarify what was and was not recyclable. Previously, there were four bins that were for bottle recycling, but did not have lids. New lids were purchased and placed on these bins so that people would know it was just bottle recycling without looking at the signs. Each grade was assigned their own bottle recycling bin in the cafeteria and their goal was to have the highest proportion of properly recycled items to win a baked good party.
Recycling
The community responded very well to the signs and bins. Many teachers were excited to get rid of the old crates and have a more concise recycling sign on the bin. The recycling was already improving before the competition began because of the new signs. By the time the competition began, there was already a positive response. The goal of educating the community was a success because everyone learned to improve their recycling skills. At the end of the competition, Ursuline’s Earth Action Team was invited to continue the competition each year and teach incoming freshman about recycling at school. This project helped and will continue to help the watershed. It reduces the amount of waste through recycling at Ursuline and the larger community.

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(RAIN) BARRELS OF FUN

2019, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES

Julia Breckenridge, Sarah Slabe, Olivia Core, and Jenna Murdock decided to host a workshop for families in their school to educate them on rain barrels and how they impact the community. Our primary issue addressed in their workshop was the lack of knowledge in their school community about runoff and a potential solution – rain barrels. In the suburban areas that they live in, runoff is a large issue due to impermeable surfaces such as roads, building roofs, and blacktop and is visible to anyone after it rains as it can cause urban flooding and back-up of the sewers.
Barrel

They held a two hour rain barrel workshop on April 9th at their school in which over 50 people attended. During the workshop, they invited three professionals to come speak on the runoff issues the city has and different solutions homeowners can implement, such as rain barrels. They taught participants how to construct a rain barrel properly and reminded them of the positive impact they are making on the environment. Ten families were able to actually take home a rain barrel and all the supplies necessary to assemble and connect it to their gutter.

This project started out as a relatively small-scale project, focusing only on the ten families that sign up for the workshop. However, over 50 people ended up attending (only ten families were able to take home a rain barrel). Therefore, not only did our project help our school community by being more aware about the issues occurring in our watershed, but it also helped each of the communities that the ten families live in. By informing the student body and families of the environmental issue of run off, more residents in the Mill Creek watershed will be aware and act to help improve this problem.

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BE IDLE FREE

2019, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES
Idle Free
Chris Murtaugh, Bella Saba, and Kiernan Cinque thought of the idling problem in their school community when presented with the Caring For Our Watersheds competition. They saw that some people do not realize when they are idling, consequently harming the environment, the people around them, and even their wallets. Anytime an engine is running, a car releases exhaust that contains harmful particulates and greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. When released, these particulates can simultaneously put people at risk of various health issues including asthma, heart disease, and cancer. Idling additionally hurts your wallets.

Unfortunately, in their school’s community idling is extremely prevalent. They have 3 school carlines where parents will show up as early as 2 PM to pick up their kids despite school being dismissed at 3:15 PM. This means cars will be idling for over an hour. Their solution to this problem in their community was to post 6 “no idling” signs around the campus to help diminish the harmful environmental and health effects of idling. Additionally, they posted an excerpt to their school’s weekly newsletter, informing the community of the traffic and environmental changes on campus.

Through these signs and the continued circulation of the newsletter, they hope to limit and eventually eradicate the idling problem on their campus. Through their campaign they not only helped to prevent idling, but also spread awareness about air pollution, their watershed, and environmental sustainability as a whole. Ultimately they felt that creating a more cognizant and responsible community was their greatest achievement throughout the entirety of the project because of its impact on the lives of future generations.

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WHEAT STRAW PLATES

2019, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES

Straw Wheat Plates

Clare Hall saw that a product that is harming the environment today is Styrofoam. Contrary to popular belief, Styrofoam is not recyclable. It takes up to one million years to fully decompose and around 57 chemical byproducts are released during the production. Styrofoam is resistant to photosynthesis, which is the ability to break down materials by photons originating from light. On top of this, the products often wash up along coastline and waterways around the world because it floats. Reducing the amount of Styrofoam used can help cities all over, and she saw the chance to create change at Mount Notre Dame High School.

Straw Wheat Plates

Through the help of World Centric Wheat Straw Plates by Earth’s Natural Alternative, the amount of Styrofoam plates used at her school was reduced tremendously. By starting movements through the Cincinnati Caring for Our Watersheds Contest, over 700 Styrofoam plates were saved from going into a landfill, and practical information about pollution was spread. Switching to alternative products to avoid Styrofoam pollution can not only physically help the environment, but could also help spread awareness. With the society we have today, word travels fast so educating others on the topic of Styrofoam could make a difference around this world.

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PERMEABLE PAVERS IMPLEMENTATION

2018, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES
Pavers
At Walnut Hills High School, thousands of students walk across campus seven hours a day, 5 days a week. Because of this, during rainy conditions, it is very common to find soil and litter running into sidewalks and parking lots and clogging drains in multiple locations. To address the ongoing erosion issue, a project was proposed to use permeable pavers to limit erosion, sustain plant life, and lessen water runoff that leads to pollution. Patrick Carroll and Spencer Jones selected to implement permeable pavers because they are a realistic and financially reasonable solution to the environmental problem of soil erosion and water runoff. They allow rain and melting snow to go into the ground, reducing runoff and lessening the amount of pollutants that go into sewers.

Since the project occurs on a Cincinnati Public School property, the team members met with the AP Environmental Science teacher, principal, and alumni director of Walnut Hills High school. The team made a formal presentation, discussing the negative environmental impacts of not using permeable pavers at Walnut Hills High School. With the funds in place and a positive impact on the school, the administrators indicated that the school was supportive, and the alumni department was positive about the project. However, the team was notified that the Cincinnati School Board would have to approve a project of this kind before implementation.. The team expects that Cincinnati Public School will approve the project and implementation will move forward in the near future. Patrick and Spencer are aware that they chose an ambitious project but believe it will make an important ecological impact at Walnut Hills High School. In addition, the completed project can encourage other schools to make similar changes to help the local watershed.
Pavers

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WOMEN FOR THE WATERSHED

2018, CINCINNATI, OH, USA
Women for Watershed
Ashley Yeoman and Kassidi Puthoff designed the Women for the Watershed week at their high school, Mount Notre Dame. Their project was designed to educate young high school women about the local Ohio watersheds and to spread awareness about what they, in turn, can do to help protect them. Ashley and Kassidi designed a week-long awareness event, during which students learned about water cleanliness, water preservation, recycling, littering, the harmful impacts of plastic and other toxins, and many other environmental protection topics.

Each day of the week, Ashley and Kassidi had a different activity or environmental announcement for students during homeroom. To kick off Monday, students watched a short, engaging video about the watershed – what it is, how humans cause harm to it, and what steps can be taken to protect it. Then, on Wednesday, there was a school-wide competition, during which students applied the information from Monday’s video to complete a homeroom quiz, or “hodge podge”. Each girl in the winning homeroom received a S’well stainless steel water bottle. Ashley and Kassidi chose stainless steel water bottles due to their positive environmental impacts. In the United States, the average person drinks about 170 plastic water bottles per year. Multiply this number by 24 girls, and in one year, one MND homeroom is using over 4,000 plastic water bottles. If these girls continue using the water bottles in years to come, imagine the number of plastic bottles that will be prevented from harming the earth.

Ashley and Kassidi also had a recycling poster contest at school. There are several recycling bins in the school cafeteria, but no signage reminding and encouraging students to recycle. So, students could design and submit recycling posters into the contest. We will copy and laminate the winning design and hang these posters around the cafeteria to encourage and remind people to recycle their soda cans, water bottles, and other recyclable materials.

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GOT SOLE?

2018, CINCINNATI, OH, USA
Got Sole
Paige and Aliyah carried out their project within Mount Notre Dame High School. They decided to hold a used tennis-shoe drive and work together with Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program to help create new playgrounds for kids around the community. With the help of their mentor, they created several posters advertising the details of the shoe drive and hung them up around school. In addition, they also sent out and electronic school-wide post and made an announcement during the school day. They used Chick-fil-A meals as an incentive to get people to participate. Anyone who brought in three or more pairs of tennis shoes was rewarded with a meal of their choice.

The shoe drive immediately got a lot of buzz from the students. With awards like Chick-fil-A and points towards a potential day off school, the girls had no trouble getting people to participate. After only the first day, the juniors had collectively brought in over 30 pairs of shoes and were winning the competition. By the end of the drive, the seniors ended up getting the win with 56 total pairs of shoes.

At the end of each day, Paige and Aliyah counted up the shoes in the bins, recorded the amount, and loaded the shoes into Aliyah’s car. Once her trunk was full, she made a trip down to the Rookwood Nike store and dropped off all the shoes. The employees there were super nice and grateful for all the hard work Paige and Aliyah did. They got so many pairs of shoes, they ended up having to take two trips to the Nike store!

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HELPING THE LOCAL ROSELAWN COMMUNITY

2018, CINCINNATI, OH, UNITED STATES
Roselawn
Maegan, Annah, and Lydia took action to help their local watershed by catching rainwater and creating a drip irrigation system that will nourish a garden. Their focus is to help the New Prospect Baptist Church in Roselawn, OH. Their plan is to help them utilize rainwater and turn it into a fresh garden for the people of the community. The drip irrigation system they put in place will accommodate five-100 ft beds and it will grow yummy fruits veggies to promote health and good environmental habits. They feel this is something they can do to extensively help the watershed and community.

On April 7 2018, the girls and their families and friends woke up early to go to the church to complete their project. With all the family and friends there were many volunteers that came and helped them. First, a videographer from the Watershed project asked the girls questions about the project. They filmed Annah and Lydia as they participated in the ripple challenge around the world. After filming, they laid out the hundreds of feet of tubing across the garden. They carefully poked holes spaced 3 feet apart. Finally, they inserted pipes for the water to flow so the crops could receive water. These steps are key to a successful drip irrigation system.

The purpose of this project is to use resources already available but not in its current form for the community. By building the drip irrigation system Annah, Lydia, and Maegan were able to save money on the water that would have had to be used to water the gardens at the Roselawn church. This is because the water is being supplied from rainfall and will be dispersed into the gardens on a timed system. They have high hopes that this new system will provide fresh foods to the people in Roselawn. This will have a long lasting impact on the community because of the food desert they live in. Going forward, the fresh fruits and vegetables grown through the use of the drip irrigation system will supplement the diets of those living in the area creating a healthier community.