Illinois EPA launches annual environmental education competition for fifth- and sixth-grade students

Agency encourages youth creativity about how to protect environment

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[December 28, 2013]  SPRINGFIELD Fifth- and sixth-grade writers and artists from around Illinois are invited to compete in this year's Poster, Poetry and Prose Contest sponsored by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency with the partnership of the Illinois State Board of Education. This year's contest is focused on environmental justice, how to balance people with industry, and learning about environmental issues in students' own communities.

Each school can enter up to eight works: four posters and four written. Entries must be postmarked and sent in to the Illinois EPA by Feb. 3. An in-house panel from the Illinois EPA judges all entries to select the finalists, whose entries are then judged by an outside panel of authorities to determine the top 12 winners.

All finalists, together with their families and teachers, are invited to an awards ceremony and reception on March 29 at the Old State Capitol Historic Site in Springfield.

During the 1840s and 1850s, the Old State Capitol was the scene of debate over issues that led the nation to war in 1861. During the Civil War, as the seat of government, the Capitol was the center of the state's wartime mobilization. The building also provided space for local events aiding the needs of local residents as well as soldier relief efforts.

Following the awards ceremony and reception, the top entries will be on exhibit in the atrium of the Illinois EPA's headquarters building in Springfield from March 31 through April 30, and the top winners will be featured on the Illinois EPA's home page at

"You're never too young to start learning about the environment," said Lisa Bonnett, director of the Illinois EPA. "We hope that students can learn more about the environmental issues facing their own communities and have fun showing off their creativity at the same time."

"Environmental protection is an important topic for all Illinois students because it impacts them throughout their lives," said Dr. Christopher Koch, superintendent of the Illinois State Board of Education. "This contest is a great way for students to better appreciate our natural resources and learn how to protect them."

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The Illinois EPA is one member of the Illinois Commission on Environmental Justice, which operates under the principle that environmental justice requires that no segment of the population, regardless of race, national origin, age or income, should bear disproportionately high or adverse effects of environmental pollution. The commission is charged with advising state entities on environmental justice; analyzing the impact of state and local laws and policies on environmental justice and sustainable communities; developing criteria to assess whether communities in the state may be experiencing environmental issues; and recommending options to the governor's office and legislators for addressing these issues.

Information about the contest is available on the Illinois EPA website at

More information about the annual contest can be obtained by contacting Kristi Morris, environmental education coordinator for the Illinois EPA, at 217-558-7198, or by mail at 1021 North Grand Ave. East, P.O. Box 19276, Springfield, IL 62794-9276.

[Text from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency file received from the Illinois Office of Communication and Information]

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