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Environmental Justice: A Healthy Community for All!

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director John J. 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 Annual Poster, Poetry, and Prose Contest. The students selected from throughout Illinois were recognized at a ceremony at the Henson Robinson Zoo in Springfield and in conjunction with the Earth Awareness Fair.

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, Environmental Justice – A Healthy Community for All! focused on understanding environmental justice and how it relates to healthy communities.

“It is a privilege to celebrate these students on Earth Day, especially given they have each been studying the important topic of Environmental Justice,” said Director Kim. “The works they have created are an example of environmental issues being discussed in the classrooms, and it is encouraging for the future of our environment.”

The students, their families, and teachers were invited to today’s awards ceremony and Earth Awareness Fair, 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.

Information about the Poster, Poetry, and Prose Contest can be obtained by contacting Kristi Morris, Environmental Education Coordinator for the Illinois EPA at

Poetry/Prose Top Award Winners:

Aniyah Hawkins

Providence St. Mel School, Chicago

Sephera Hutchinson
St. Monica Academy, Chicago

​Brighid Reid
Somonauk Middle School, Somonauk

Ava Robinson
Fabyan Elementary School, Geneva

Julia Vogt
St. Monica Academy, Chicago

​Sophia Zayas
St. Monica Academy, Chicago

Poster Top Award Winners:

Haasika Arunkumar
Glenn Elementary, Normal

​Olivia Bafia
St. Monica Academy, Chicago

​Sophia Faryjewicz
St. Monica Academy, Chicago

Mary Shea Gibbs
St. Giles School, Oak Park


Eleni Malliaras
St. Monica Academy, Chicago


Ava Watson
Beecher City Grade School, Beecher City