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When sixth grader Marit Hartvigson saw her fellow students collecting water samples along Slikok Creek, she knew she had to put a stop to such destructive behavior. What young Hartvigson noticed that others had not, was the stream bank erosion caused by frequent trips to the creek. Five years later, Hartvigson is being honored by President Bush for bringing the community together to protect the stream and the Adopt-a-Stream monitoring program.
Hartvigson is one of ten recipients of the President’s Environmental Youth Award. President Bush and EPA Administrator Steve Johnson presented the award to Hartvigson at a White House ceremony on April 20.
In high school, Hartvigson began to plan a solution to the problem she observed as a sixth grader. In 2004, she won the Caring for the Kenai contest for her design of the project. With the help of government agencies, Mike’s Welding and Kenai River Sportfishing Association, she coordinated a volunteer effort to raise $14,000, engineer, permit and construct a platform for creek monitoring. While planning the project, access to the original sampling location became unavailable, making the future of the Adopt-a-Stream program’s future uncertain. Hartvigson worked with the community to gain access to state land, erect the stream-protecting platform and ensure the future of the stream-monitoring program.
The President’s Environmental Youth Awards program—celebrating 35 years of recognizing student excellence and achievement—has two components: the regional certificate program and the national awards competition. Regional certificates from the President of the U.S. are awarded by each of the ten EPA regions. One outstanding project from each region is presented with a presidential plaque at an EPA sponsored award ceremony. Youth of any age, from kindergarten through high school, can enter as individuals, or as a group. Young people from around the country are invited annually to participate in the awards program, which is aimed at encouraging individuals, school classes, summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness and positive community involvement.