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Recycling spurs friendly competition among students

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By Jimmie Earls

A group of local young entrepreneurs are hoping to make some green while going green. The Green Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute (GEL-IN), under the direction of the Hardin County School System, the Lincoln Trail Innovation Center and Kentucky Student Ventures Corporation, has more than 150 participants from an eight-county region. Two teams from Washington County competed for “best of the county” Friday afternoon for a chance to advance to the regional competition in Elizabethtown on July 31, where they will compete against the best teams from the other seven counties in the LTADD region.

Earlier in the day, both teams attended a meeting of the Washington County Fiscal Court, where they presented a recycling distribution plan for the county. One of the points they made was the need for additional recycling receptacles throughout the county, namely Hardesty, Maud, Pottsville, Holy Rosary Church in Manton, the Mooresville tractor place and the Presbyterian church on Highway 150.

While both teams were united in presenting their ideas to the court, it was time for the teams to make their big sell Friday afternoon to a panel of five judges.

“The program is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009,” said Janie Leech, who is a teacher/coach with the GEL-IN program.

The first team to make their presentation was the Green Machines, consisting of Natasha Hill, Lauren White and Ryan Pike. Fellow team member Veno Coulter sustained an injury while working on the project, and in his absence, his teammates dedicated their presentation to him.

“Our theme is ‘Don’t be mean, go green’,” said White. “Our plan for Washington County is to manufacture recycled accessories that they can use in everyday life. We made photo frames that we decorated with reused bottle caps, pull tabs and glass. We also made necklaces and bracelets out of reused handkerchiefs and newspaper balls.”

“Our goal is to better the planet, and overall our team wants to offer a safe and more environmentally friendly solution to trash in Springfield,” Hill said. “All of the proceeds from our products will be donated to the Washington County Regional Recycling Center.”

The Green Machines also worked with the New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future on their project, as well as going door-to-door to local businesses talking about the benefits of going green. Clean-up projects also took place at the St. Catharine Motherhouse and the Springfield Reservoir.

Following the Green Machines were the EcoCentrics, a team consisting of Chasity Peyton, Nicole Doty and Emily Harmon, who made their presentation to the judges.

While both teams worked on the same projects, the EcoCentrics expanded on their product line by not only offering necklaces and bracelets, but also purses, pillows and napkin rings.

After the final presentation, it was time for the judges to rate each team on a 1 to 10 scale in 10 different areas. When it came time to tally up the scores, the judges thought both teams did extremely well, but in the end, it was the EcoCentrics who won.

“Out of a possible 500 score, the EcoCentrics won by one point,” added Leech. “I petitioned for the judging to be declared a tie and both teams to be awarded computers, but this was not possible. Both teams worked extremely hard on their projects, I’m very proud of both of them.”

Members of the Green Machines are eligible to still win a prize in the GEL-IN poster competition in Louisville this Friday.

For their win, all members of the EcoCentrics will receive a laptop computer and the team will compete in the the regional competition in Elizabethtown on July 31.

But when it comes to helping the environment and getting involved in recycling, everyone stands to benefit from the experience.

Hal B. Goode, who acted as one of the judges, summed it up best when he said, “There’s really no losers.”