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2019 Contest

Green Transportation - Keeping the Air Clean for a Healthy Future!

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Acting Director John Kim honored a group of creative fifth and sixth grade students selected for their artistic and writing skills used to express environmental awareness, as part of the Agency's 32nd Annual Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest. The students selected from throughout Illinois were recognized at a reception in the Old State Capitol building in downtown Springfield.

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, Green Transportation – Keeping the Air Clean for a Healthy Future! focused on the importance of choosing green transportation and how it relates to air quality.

"As we have just celebrated Earth Day, I am encouraged by the works of these students and their knowledge of the environment," said Acting Director Kim.  "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:

Ben Carlson
Spencer Crossing School
New Lenox

Penelope Mahon
St. Monica Academy

Sunehri Patel
Washington Elementary School

Nate Smith
Spencer Crossing School
New Lenox

Izabella Sobieraj
Washington Elementary School

Paul Wawczak
St. Giles Catholic School
Oak Park

Posters Top Award Winners:

Lizbeth Balerio
Washington Elementary School

Krishna Gandhi
Washington Elementary School

Paige Nacpil
St. Monica Academy

Blake Schaper
Fortitude School

Hannah Shoemaker
Cumberland Middle School

Stella Waters
Willows Academy
Des Plaines

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.

The students, their families, and teachers were invited to today's awards ceremony and reception, 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. In addition to the awards, tours of the Old State Capitol were given to winners and guests before and after the awards ceremony.

A complete list of winners by school can be found hereThe winning entries will be on exhibit at Illinois EPA's headquarters in Springfield through May 24.

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