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West Lafayette students receive national award as part of their work confronting the climate crisis

 Confront the Climate Crisis sponsored a student climate march in September of 2021 (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)
Confront the Climate Crisis sponsored a student climate march in September of 2021 (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

Two West Lafayette students have received national recognition for their work confronting the climate crisis in Indiana.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced last week that West Lafayette Junior-Senior High School students Ethan Bledsoe and Anna Prokopy would receive the President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Their work with Confront the Climate Crisis, a youth-led environmental group, was one of ten projects honored nationally this year.

Ethan Bledsoe said the group worked at both the local and statewide level to pass legislation aimed at acknowledging climate change as a crisis. He said even though state legislation Confront the Climate Crisis helped introduce never got a hearing, he’s still proud of their efforts.

“We’re going to make changes to the legislation to give it the best chance of success but we’re going to keep coming back and hopefully, eventually, it’ll be able to pass,” he said.

Bledsoe and Prokopy were also acknowledged for their work both in getting a climate emergency declaration passed in the city of West Lafayette, and the creation of a youth advisor position with the city council.

Bledsoe said he and Prokopy struggled to decide which projects to submit for the award.

“There was just so much,” he said. “It was really difficult for us to pare down everything to only be five pages, but we made sure to just choose the stuff that was most impactful to us.”

Megan Gavin is the Environmental Education Coordinator for the U.S. EPA Region 5.

“This is a very big deal,” she said. “Students are getting national press, and our hope at EPA is that other students will take notice.”

Gavin said it’s especially important to elevate the work of students.

“It’s one thing to have teachers telling students something,” she said. “But when you hear something peer to peer, high school kids telling other high school kids: ‘This is important to me, you should care about it too.’”

The EPA will hold a ceremony for the award in Washington, D.C in August.

Copyright 2022 WBAA News. To see more, visit WBAA News.

Benjamin Thorp