1422 Elbridge Payne Road #250, Chesterfield, MO 63017
Phone: 217/251-3659; e-mail: editor@ruralmarketingnews.com
Source: Lexus press release

TORRANCE, California -- Sixteen student teams from 11 states have been named winners in the first round of the fourth annual Lexus Eco Challenge, an educational program and contest that inspires and empowers young people to learn about the environment and take action to improve it. Lexus will award a total of $500,000 in grants and scholarships throughout this year's program.

Students across the country demonstrated their commitment to the planet with programs aimed at protecting land and water. Each winning team has earned $10,000 in scholarships and grants to be shared among the students, teacher and school. Their win has secured each team an invitation to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance at one of two $30,000 grand prizes and eight $15,000 first-place awards. In addition, the winning action plans will be featured on a special Web page to inspire other students to take action in their communities.

"It's great to see so many different ways the students have delved into their projects," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "This goes to show that there is a never-ending supply of environmental issues and these students are finding many unique and exceptional ways to take action and improve our environment."

For each of the challenges, teams are required to define an environmental issue that is important to them, develop an action plan to address the issue, implement the plan, and report on the results. The Challenge #1 winning teams that best addressed environmental challenges associated with land and water are:

High School Teams:

•New York (LaGrangeville) - "Team CORAL" - Arlington High - Focused on loss of biodiversity, specifically coral reefs.
•New York (LaGrangeville) - "Wet hands in the Wetlands" - Arlington High - Centered on preservation of aquatic habitats and shrinking wetlands.
•Alabama (Hoover) - "Team Cahaba" - Hoover High School - Zeroed in on protecting the species in the Cahaba River by spearheading the 1st Bi-Annual Cahaba River Biodiversity Blitz.
•North Carolina (Buxton) - "Hatteras Green Eco Team" - Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies - Focused on educating, protecting and preserving Hatteras Island, a fragile barrier island habitat.
•Oklahoma (Red Rock) - "Recyclinators" - Frontier Public Schools - Organized and promoted recycling of pop cans to address pollution.
•Ohio (Chesterland) - "Environmental Discovery Project" - West Geauga High School - Proposed, lobbied and helped passage of Spotted Salamander bill into Ohio's law in order to address Ohio's disappearing wetlands.
•California (La Crescenta) - "Eco Savers 2010" - Clark Magnet High School - Addressed the threat to waterways and oceans and its effects on the lobster population, with a specific focus on California spiny lobsters, Panulirus interruptus.
•Arizona (Chandler) - "Once Upon a Tree" Hamilton Prep - Directed their efforts of preventing desertification by planting trees in Tonto National Forest.

Middle School Teams:

•New Jersey (Hoboken) - "The Eco Saints" - All Saints Episcopal Day School - Led massive effort in banning plastic bags in their community.
•New Jersey (Manahawkin) - "The Kreepy Krawlers" - All Saints Regional Catholic School - Focused on saving the woodlands, trees and forests from gypsy moths, leaf eating moths.
•Florida (Lakeland) - "Eco Med" - Lawton Chiles Middle Academy - Centered on educating the community on eco-friendly ways to dispose of unwanted medicines.
•Florida (Lakeland) - "Eco Wash" - Lawton Chiles Middle Academy - Concentrated on educating the community about eco-friendly ways to wash cars and reduce phosphate pollution in their lakes.
•Iowa (Charles City) - "Eco Chicks" - Charles City Middle School - Educated the community about the importance of bees and how to save hives from destruction.
•Michigan (Fruitport) - Fruitport Team Eco - Fruitport Middle School - Took on building a rain garden to address the run-off of water that flowed into their local stream.
•California (Pasadena) - Lunch Bunch - High Point Academy - Created and implemented a campaign to reduce waste from lunches.
•California (Hillsborough) - SPEW - The Nueva School - Embarked on raising water conservation awareness by launching a successful argument against the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission's effort to divert water.

This year's Lexus Eco Challenge launched on Sept. 27, 2010, and concludes with the announcement of the first place and grand-prize-winning teams during Earth Month in April 2011. Challenge #2, which asks students to address the environmental challenges for air and climate, is currently underway and has an entry deadline of Jan. 19, 2011.

In addition to the ongoing contest, the Lexus Eco Challenge also includes educational materials created and distributed by Scholastic, the global children's publishing, education and media company, to encourage teachers to integrate creative lesson plans about the environment into their classrooms. For each challenge, the Web site (www.scholastic.com/lexus) has lesson plans and teacher instructions, including questions to help guide a discussion about the current challenge topic, facts about the topic, and guidelines for a specific classroom project.

The Lexus Eco Challenge is part of The Lexus Pursuit of Potential, a philanthropic initiative that generates up to $5 million in donations each year for organizations that help build, shape and improve children's lives.