Youth put 'green' streak on display

August 5, 2009

 [ This article was reprinted from The News-Enterprise ]

ELIZABETHTOWN— The work of 30 teams coalesced into one final competition Friday afternoon at Pritchard Community Center, where eight teams representing the eight counties in the Lincoln Trail Area Development District presented “green” entrepreneurial proposals as part of Green Summer Forever, a six-week program created through the Green Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute(GEL-IN).

 Grayson County’s The Water Boyz took home the grand prize for best proposal. The group outlined a water conservation project that received backing support from city officials in Leitchfield. The team — Chad Gilbert, Cody Clemons, Jared Clemons and Jordan Decker — designed a rain barrel system that was placed at the solid waste transfer station in Grayson County. The system was designed to collect and recycle rainwater for later use.

The team said they were “ecstatic” to be chosen first place, with prizes including a trophy, certificate and a new laptop for each member.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” Jared Clemons said, clutching happily to the new laptop.

Coach Ginger Crain said the team also formed a business under its moniker and plans to design and customize additional barrels for sale. The plan is to sell the barrels at $50, Crain said, considerably cheaper than competitor prices, which average around $200.

The Water Boyz also participated in other projects, such as spreading recycled mulch at parks and playgrounds in the county.

Hardin County fared well, too, as its representative team, Team Verde, placed second in the final competition. The team presented an animated proposal outlining the amount of energy waste perpetrated annually within the United States. The goal of the group’s proposal was to identify waste through energy audits at two office buildings in the county.

The group found that hundreds of dollars could be saved on energy bills by taking small efforts to conserve energy, such as removing personal refrigerators and coffee pots and turning off computers at the end of the day and during lunch breaks.

Like The Water Boyz, Team Verde hoped to inspire conservation throughout the county through its project.

The other projects varied in scope and design, from community gardening to the creation of electricity through hydroelectric power.

Of the 30 teams created, eight teams hailed from Hardin County, and several of them were honored with awards on Friday for their efforts.

Robert King, an associate superintendent with Hardin County Schools, said each group displayed excellent concepts.

“You’re amazing,” King told the groups before the awards ceremony. “I am impressed with the level of professionalism you exhibited.”

The concept of green living permeated the ceremony, with organizers using recycled trophies and awarding refurbished computers to some winners. Signs for the ceremony were makeshift, created from discarded materials. Lisa Williams, the project co-manager, said they also tried to buy locally for the event, using local vendors for its green luncheon and the flowers adorning each table.

The program itself is new, funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Lincoln Trail Innovation Center partnered with Hardin County Schools and Kentucky Student Ventures to bid on the project, Williams said, and youth were chosen between the ages of 16 and 24. Income levels was one of the criteria looked at, and participants were paid $7.25 an hour for their work, which varied between the classroom and site work.

In Hardin County alone, teams worked at sites such as The Historic State Theater, the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau and Freeman Lake Park.

Williams said she would love to see the project continue next year.

“We’ll have to see if we get funding again,” she said. “Hopefully we will.”

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