BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – A Shelton High student and the Aspetuck Land Trust were honored as champions of the environment by Bridgeport's Aquarion Water Co. for their volunteer projects to make the Earth a better place.
The seventh annual Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards were handed out at a ceremony held Saturday at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo.
Aquarion accepted hundreds of nominations in four categories: Business, Non-Profit Organization, Adult and Student (Grade 9-12). The awards recognize volunteer projects that have significantly contributed to the improvement of environmental quality through the protection, conservation, restoration and stewardship of Connecticut’s water, air, soils, and plant and wildlife habitats.
This year’s winners received a $2,500 grant to the environmental nonprofit of their choice, and the student award was a $1,000 prize. The winning entries for 2017 included:
Student : Marissa Peck, Shelton High School: Using only school science lab equipment and a small grant, Peck set out to create a new kind of plastic that would resist degradation in fresh water but would completely degrade in the ocean. Her hypothesis was that a pollution-free polymer created from a simple water-soluble substance, such as corn or potato starch, could be coated with a substance that protects it in fresh water but dissolves in salt water. Although her experiment resulted in the creation of plastics that stood up better to salt water than fresh, Peck plans to continue her research to identify a permanent solution for oceanic pollution in college.
Nonprofit : Aspetuck Land Trust: In 2016, Aspetuck celebrated three accomplishments: 50 years of conservation success, 1,000 members supporting its work, and 1,700 acres of green space it has helped to protect throughout Westport, Weston, Fairfield, Easton, Wilton, Redding, and Bridgeport. This land protected by the group provides a safe home for over 500 species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and plants and is accessible to the public for outdoor recreation and scientific education. Other notable accomplishments include a three-year project with Connecticut DEEP to restore salt marshes with native plants along the Saugatuck River and the maintenance of 40 miles of hiking trails along its 45 nature preserves.
Other winners were: Thule Group of Seymour in the Business group; and Fred Grimsey of Waterford and Kevin Zak of Naugatuck in the adult division.
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