Illinois EPA honors young environmentalists

Chronicle Media
Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett

Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett

In recognition of Earth Day, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnett is honoring a group of distinguished fifth- and sixth-grade students selected for their creative skills used to express environmental awareness, as part of the Agency’s 29th Annual Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest.

The writers and artists selected from throughout Illinois were recognized earlier this month at a reception in the Old State Capitol building in downtown Springfield.

Each year, fifth- and sixth-graders in Illinois take part in the agency’s environmental education program – “Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest” – studying environmental concepts with a particular emphasis on the current year’s environmental theme.

Many round out the classroom program by creating 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 of these categories to submit for competitive judging. This year’s theme, “W.A.T.E.R. – What A True Environmental Resource! How will you conserve and protect it?” focused on the importance of conserving and protecting water, including drinking water and storm water; both individually and as a community.

“Illinois EPA is honored to recognize these students for their creativity, which delivers an important message to their fellow students and community members,” said Bonnett. “This year’s theme focused on water as one of our most valuable environmental resources, and through their works, we are able to see how these students have learned important lessons on conserving and protecting our environment.”

Poetry/Prose Top Award Winners

Dalal Hassane, Washington School, Glenview

Julia Jochum, Holy Cross Catholic School, Batavia

Vasiliki Kanellos, Hellenic American Academy, Deerfield

Katie Popp, Prince of Peace Catholic School, Lake Villa

Sara Schinker, St. Cletus School, La Grange

Samantha Speer, Olson Park Elementary, Machesney Park

Posters Top Award Winners

Amina Ahmad, Washington School, Glenview

Rhanda Halawah, Washington School, Glenview

Hailey Lange, Olson Park Elementary, Machesney Park

Sanaiya Luthar, Countryside School, Champaign

Makenna McBride, Jefferson Elementary, Charleston

Shawn Syed, Countryside School, Champaign

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 a reception at which 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. A listing of Honorable Mention and Special Recognition winners is attached, and a complete listing of winners is available on the Illinois EPA web site at: In addition to the awards, tours of the Old State Capitol were given to winners and guests before and after the awards ceremony.

The winning entries will be on exhibit in the atrium at Illinois EPA’s headquarters in Springfield through May 9; the top 12 entries are also featured on the Illinois EPA’s web site.


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