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Island Coast High among America’s Green Hero finalists

By Staff | Mar 30, 2010

Island Coast High School is in the running to be named America’s Green Hero for its efforts to find solutions to today’s most pressing ecological problems.
The school’s Academy of Natural Resources recently applied for the Green Hero grant through The Clorox Company, makers of Green Works natural cleaners, and Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program.
What makes this grant program unique is that winners are decided by a vote on Green Works’ Facebook page.
Besides Island Coast High, there are five finalists — Mariposa Elementary School of Global Education in California, Roger Bacon High School in Ohio, Merrimack Biodiesel Crew in New Hampshire, Food for Life Program in Hampstead Hill Academy in Maryland — vying for the $15,000 first prize or $5,000 runner-up grants.
“We need people to vote every day, because whatever project gets the most votes wins,” said Cherie Sukovich, a lead teacher in the academy.
Sukovich said the school’s grant proposal deals specifically with mangrove restoration.
The academy opened in 2008 and currently enrolls 146 students. They grow mangroves in sand using aquaponics — a method of recirculating waste and nutrient byproducts — and take the plants to Fort Myers Beach. Of course, the grant from Green Works would expand the work in the community.
“The kids would like to raise production levels so we can offer mangroves and plantings to any waterfront homeowner in Lee County,” she said. “A part of our grant is to educate homeowners and others as to the benefits of mangroves.”
A huge part of the local ecosystem, mangroves filter and clean water, as well attract microscopic life which, in turn, attract fish, said Sukovich, adding that the trees also serve as a nursery for crab, oyster and other forms of sea life.
Some homeowners can even use mangrove trees near sea walls or dock areas to help the environment, she said.
The academy at Island Coast High has been successful in raising other grants for its program. Since 2008, the school secured $12,000 in grants to expand the aquaculture programs — raising tilapia and African cichlids in aquariums holding thousands of gallons of water.
Voting for the Green Hero ends on April 18 and the winners will be announced on April 22 or the date of Earth Day 2010.
David Kargas, senior group manager of public relations for The Clorox Company, said 398 schools, organizations and individuals submitted grant applications. Judges later cut the list down to 15 in three categories.
“Now it’s up to 15 finalists and their supporters to get the word out and convince people to cast their votes and make them a Green Hero,” said Kargas, in a prepared statement.
Votes can be cast at www.facebook.com/greenworks or under a direct link on the academy’s Web site at www.ichs-aonr.com. Facebook doesn’t charge to be a member, and Sukovich said voters only need an e-mail account to register.