For the complete list, click here.


Setting the pace for the next generation

Katie Curry, Franklin, Ind.

Curry has taken on an environmental cause that's not necessarily new. What's unique about her efforts to recycle is that she's 9 years old.

Unlike others her age, she doesn't just come home from school, have a snack, and then do her homework. In addition to the typical things a third-grader does, she also writes grants to help pay for community-improvement projects like the recycled-plastic benches that grace the streets of her hometown.

Required to complete a project in the “public eye” in order to receive a state grant, Curry had the usual choices. She could simply toss the plastic bottles she collected, recycle them—or she could take it to the next level.

With support from her parents and grandmother, help collecting 800 pounds of plastic bottles from her schoolmates and neighbors, and a little media attention, Curry launched a full-scale attack on the plastic garbage generated by residents of her home-town. And these efforts paid off. She was awarded a $3200 grant from the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development; the Franklin Beautification Committee matched that amount so the town could buy 12 recycled-plastic benches.

As a two-year member of the Beautification Committee, Curry has more goals for her town: trash containers and cigarette urns made from recycled aluminum, for which she plans to apply for another grant nex t year. It will be her 20th such project.

While everyone has different reasons for recycling, Curry's are simple. “I think only about 50% of kids understand the need to recycle,” she says. Her efforts have helped raise awareness in her school about the importance of environmental issues.

But increasing that level of awareness beyond her classmates is the real goal. Curry hopes that “the world won't be a huge landfill” at some point, so she hammers home one point: People of all ages can and should recycle.

Take it from a 9-year-old. We really can make a difference in our communities. — Amara Rozgus