Indian Americans win EPA’s PEYA Award


Five Indian Americans and one team including Indian Americans have won the President’s Environmental Youth Award, among 17, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Samuel B. (Courtesy: EPA)

Samuel B., a second grader from New Jersey, created a composite or worm bin with the help of his second grade teacher and parents, calling his project “Worm Tower, Earth Power.”

Samuel shared the information he learned throughout the community, with his fellow classmates, with other classes in the school, and with the Bergenfield Garden Club.

He will continue this composting project and ultimately distribute all the worms used in his bin to the Garden Club so that these worms can continue to have a positive effect on the environment.

Jay M. (Courtesy: EPA)

Jay M., a senior from Indiana, won for his “Electronic Recycling Initiative.”

Jay partnered with the e-recycling organization TechRecyclers to ensure responsible handling and data destruction of materials collected during multiple community electronics drives and advertised through local news, online publications, social media, and flyers.

The electronic drives took place between 2015 and 2017, and involved 15 to 20 volunteers per event, diverting more than 30,000 pounds from landfills.

In addition, he noticed the detrimental effects that heavy metals in broken electronics can have on both people and the environment, which began his research project to test the protective effects of a green algae, Chlorella vulgaris, on zebrafish exposed to multiple concentrations of methylmercury.

Asvini T. (Courtesy: EPA)

In Asvini T.’s project “Save the Place Where We Are Living and Save the Planet,” she implemented a city-wide battery recycling initiative diverting over 25,000 batteries away from landfills while she did her research and conducted a series of presentations about the dangers of the chemicals found in batteries, making a clear connection between those dangers and associated human health risks, as well as damage done to the natural environment.

Madhalasa I. (Courtesy: EPA)

Using her “Saving the Hands that Feed Us” project, Madhalasa I., coordinated a community fundraising activity that brought in enough money to purchase 700 pairs of gloves and masks for farmers in her ancestral town of Yavatmal District in India, when 32 pesticide poisoning deaths took place within the span of three months.

After she conducted research on pesticide effects, Madhalasa came up with a blend of stable mixed cultures that could potentially help biodegrade a leading pesticide faster than what is most commonly used.

Gitanjali R. (Courtesy: EPA)

Gitanjali R. was named a winner for her project “Developing a Technology for Water Quality Testing,” in which she addressed the core issue of speedy, accurate and inexpensive detection of lead contamination, potentially helping people take preventative measures and maybe even saving lives.

She developed a device to accurately measure lead contamination levels in water using nanotechnology, and then displaying it on a custom mobile app.

The device is portable, and can be reprogrammed for other contaminants.

Team Operation Sustain (Courtesy: EPA)

Team Operation Sustain, is an organization run by six high school students in Washington who have a goal to increase environmental awareness in the next generation of students ever since being inspired by their Environmental Science class.

They wanted to educate elementary students about environmental issues to encourage them to make change and to make technology more accessible to promote the STEM fields.

Each year the PEYA program honors environmental awareness projects developed by young individuals, school classes, summer camps, public interest groups and youth organizations and it promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement.



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