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Richland College Students Win 2019 EarthX Most Environmental Impact Award

Richland College dual credit high school students Samuel Flanagan and Paige Smith helped the Dallas County Community College District win the Division III Most Environmental Impact Award at the EarthX conference, held at Fair Park April 26-28, with their unique project that was part of DCCCD’s “Sustainable U” exhibit.

The Most Environmental Impact Award is given to a group with an outstanding presentation that inspires others to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Flanagan and Smith’s project was a boat made entirely out of plastic water bottles. During one month, the students collected a total of five hundred used water bottles from two families of four. Flanagan and Smith then designed and built a boat that holds a capacity of three hundred pounds and floats on water, which they tested by paddling out on White Rock Lake. The project took them one year to complete.

“Samuel and Paige were motivated by their passion to bring environmental awareness and consciousness to our community about how much bottled water we consume and the impact of these bottles, not only on our landfills, but also in our oceans,” said Sonia Ford, Sustainability Project Coordinator at Richland College.

The water bottle boat was very popular among the patrons of EarthX, including elementary school students, seniors, alumni, environmental groups, EarthX judges and DCCCD students. There were also many Richland College representatives at this event, including faculty members Tara Urbanski, Daniella Pezzo, Tiffany Savage and Michael Li; staff members Ford and Cindy Hood, and 35 student volunteers.

“In addition to fulfilling Richland College’s vision to learn, teach and build sustainable local and world community, this project also exemplified Richland’s culture of creativity, innovation, competitiveness and leadership,” added Ford.

All other DCCCD colleges attended EarthX to promote DCCCD’s 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Read more about these goals and how they can be used to achieve a better and more sustainable future for everyone at www.dcccd.edu/au/sustainability/initiatives/un-sdgs/pages/default.aspx.

EarthX is an international nonprofit organization whose purpose is to educate and inspire people to action toward a more sustainable future. It hosts the world’s largest environmental expo and conference sharing the latest initiatives, discoveries, research, innovations, policies and corporate practices that are reshaping the world. Learn more at https://earthx.org.

Richland College has tracked energy consumption since 1975, and it records and assesses key performance indicators for energy and water usage and recycling.  In 2017, Richland College became the first and only educational institution to be awarded the City of Dallas Zero Waste Management Gold Level Green Business certification for its efforts in preventing waste, incorporating recycling and promoting reuse and compost in its operations. In 2010 and 2011, Richland College was awarded the Environmental Protection Agency WasteWise Award for University and College Partner of the Year. Richland College also won the national Recyclemania Grand Championship in 2016 and the Texas Grand Championship each year from 2010 to 2018. For more information about Richland College’s green initiatives, visit www.richlandcollege.edu/greenrichland.