Rachel Joseph, a junior at Somers High School, took the grand prize for her project to encourage water conservation by installing rain barrels in the Primrose Elementary School garden and raise awareness about water conservation.
Joseph and others had their projects on display at the Greenlight Award Finals at the Bedford Playhouse on May 1.
The Greenlight Award program challenges students to take on Bedford 2020’s mission to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect natural resources and provides them with a framework and expertise to carry out their envisioned projects.
With a sponsorship from PepsiCo, Bedford 2020 also offers funding and prize money. This year’s theme, Changemaker 2020, additionally challenged participants to prove they could change behavior with their efforts. Joseph was among the seven finalists.
At the finals, the teams presented projects to address environmental problems in their community.
With her win, Joseph received $500 and a Greenlight Award trophy.
Joseph’s project resulted in behavior change by dozens of students and faculty who now use rainwater in the garden instead of fresh water.
According to the teen, the rain barrel installation can save up to 124 gallons of water each week. She said that the barrels have increased the instances of garden watering and provide increased opportunities for teaching curriculum in the garden.
Somers High School Green Power Engineering Club, of which Jospeh is a member, will continue the partnership with the elementary school and will expand the installation and the scope of outreach next year.
Joseph began working on this project with other Greenlight Award participants at an Incubator Workshop in November where Bedford 2020 asked volunteer “experts” to be on hand to advise the students about their green ideas.
During the workshop, Joseph got advice from local engineers about installation and insight from a teacher from an area school about working with administrators and faculty members on a project like this.
At the Round One event Joseph’s project proposal was selected among the 19 entries as one of the finalists. Based on her proposal, Bedford 2020 offered to grant her up to $900 to implement her project.
At a second Incubator Workshop, Joseph met with teams of volunteer experts to learn more about tracking metrics to show impact, behavior change strategies and tactics, engaging stakeholders, and generating results before the finals in May.
Joseph also brought on a faculty mentor at Somers High School, Michael Fry, to guide her.
“These environmental leaders have learned a lot in the Greenlight Award process, and we are proud to have worked with them,” said Ellen Calves, Bedford 2020’s program director. “We hope they have had a taste of success that encourages them to continue working for a better world.”
The contest launches each fall. For more information about the Greenlight Award, visit www.bedford2020.org/greenlight.