Seventh-grade teacher Kimiko Pettis participated in this year’s Windy City Earth Force project in partnership with Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and the Calumet Environmental Education Program at The Field Museum, where she learned about the GLRI-funded Stewardship Project Contest (PDF). Ms. Pettis was selected as one of three award-winning teachers, and her students at Thomas Hoyne Elementary in Chicago helped educate their local community about the importance of properly using and disposing of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCP). 
The class’ first step was to research the subject of PPCPs, how to dispose of them, and what effects they can have if they’re allowed into the water. The class invited IISG staffers and representatives from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to provide hands-on activities teaching them about water quality. 
Then they put what they had learned into action by making posters and flyers that they posted in local churches, businesses, and shops. They also conducted a school-wide survey about water quality to find out what their fellow students knew about the issues, and wrote letters to legislators and environmental agencies detailing what they had learned about threats to water safety. 
At the end, the students produced a great video skit to share with their fellow students at the school, and they participated in the Ford Environmental Leadership Summit at the Field Museum on May 8, 2012, where they were able to display the posters and flyers they had made and engage with the attendees to talk about proper disposal of PPCPs. 
Ms. Pettis and two teachers in Pennsylvania will each receive a $100 gift certificate to use for education resources as an award for their excellence in fostering student engagement and stewardship. 
The contest, sponsored by Sea Grant Programs in Pennsylvania, Illinois-Indiana, and New York will continue throughout the 2012-13 school year, and complete details are included in the PDF linked above.
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