Kori Vialet, a junior at Ivanna Eudora Kean High School, and Jacynthe Lettsome, a sophomore at Charlotte Amalie High, accepted the award from Region 2 of the Environmental Protection Agency. A total of 56 students participated in the project last summer, sponsored by the Anti-Litter and Beautification Commission, St. Thomas-St. John district.
The award, which recognizes young people who become environmental leaders within their communiy, was presented by Christine Todd Whitman, EPA administrator, and William Muszynski, acting regional administrator. Lettsome thanked Whitman for "recognizing our concern for the environment and our hard work to protect it." She presented Whitman with one of the summer program's trademark green T-shirts.
ALBC district director Geraldine Smith, project field coordinator Lueben Davis and student supervisor Rosemarie Dorsett accompanied the two teens to the ceremony at the EPA regional headquarters in New York.
The students spent six weeks cleaning the Benner Bay area on St. Thomas last summer. They carried, dragged and pushed debris to the roadside, where it was trucked to the landfill. The result was an environmentally improved area hospitable to the growth of mangroves and seagrass beds, both critical to marine life and wildlife.
The project was developed by the commission and funded in part by a grant from the Planning and Natural Resources Department. Each year EPA Region 2, encompassing New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, selects up to three Environmental Youth Award winners. Three projects from New York received honorable mention this year.