EPA Honors Fifth-Grader from Everett, Washington for Protecting Bees and Other Pollinators
Date: June 14, 2017
Seattle – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Elizabeth Sajan, a 5th grade student at St. Mary Magdalen School in Everett, Washington, for her outstanding work to promote and protect bees and other pollinators in her local community. Elizabeth’s project is among 15 student projects from 13 states to receive the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award for their environmental education and stewardship achievements. EPA presented the award at a ceremony today at St. Mary Magdalen School.
“Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”
As part of the 5th grade science curriculum, Elizabeth learned about pollination and the importance of bees. The topic struck her curiosity and after encouragement from her teacher, Elizabeth embarked on an independent project to educate herself and her community about bee health and beekeeping.
“I am so proud of Elizabeth for taking a topic we were learning about in class and transforming this topic into a passion,” said Julie Tyndall, student sponsor and fifth grade teacher at St. Mary Magdalen School. “She educated the community about the importance of bees as pollinators, how it will affect our lives if bees disappear, and what we can do to help bees thrive in our communities.”
During her project “Bee Happy We Happy,” Elizabeth did extensive research including reviewing articles, viewed Washington State University Extension videos on pollination and pollinator protection and watched a TED talk on the topic, visited a local nursery to understand cultivation, and reached out to organizations and scientists as direct sources. Her research led her to sources such as the community horticulture wing of the department of pest management of Washington State University Extension, a chemical engineer in Oregon, and a biotechnologist in pharmaceuticals, which helped her to understand chemicals being used in modern agriculture and managing balanced biodiversity.
Following her research, to engage her community, Elizabeth created an awareness flier, and set out to distribute it across her school and community. Elizabeth shared actions that her community members could take to promote bee health, such as planting bee-friendly flowers, keeping “weeds,” becoming a beekeeper, reducing pesticide use, and including water sources in a garden. She gave a presentation to her classmates and principal, and provided fliers to homeroom teachers to discuss with their science classes. At her local grocery, she engaged customers at the door by giving out her flier and discussing her concerns about bee health and how individuals could make a difference in protecting pollinators. Elizabeth plans to continue to get the message out in order to develop more “bee helpers” in her community.
President’s Environmental Youth Awards information: https://www.epa.gov/education/presidents-environmental-youth-award
News release and photos of the Bee Happy We Happy student project are available at: https://go.usa.gov/xNprW