Greeley students named Greenlight Award Finalist with environmental behavior-change project

Horace Greeley High School fielded five of the 19 teams from eight high schools that pitched projects before judges at the Greenlight Award Round One Expo on December 15, 2018 in Bedford.

The Greenlight Award is a contest that challenges high school students to lead a project to get people to change their behavior in a way that benefits the environment.  Judges with sustainability expertise scored the student proposals at the Round One Expo including Peter McCartt, Westchester County Director of Energy Conservation and Sustainability, Anne Jaffe-Holmes, Director of Programs for Federated Conservationists of Westchester County, Kevin Brenner, President of Healthy Home Energy and Consulting, Sara Goddard of Rye City Council and Friends of Rye Sustainability Committee, Chris and Kathy Perry, teachers from Rippowam Cisqua School, Laura Kaplan, President of Rusticus Garden Club, Veronique Pittman of the Green Schools Alliance, and Vinoj Siva, Manufacturing Engineer at Curtis Instruments.

The seven highest scoring teams at the Expo received up to $1,000 funding, and Bedford 2020, the nonprofit that runs the contest, helps connect them with experts and mentors as they carry out their plans between now and the finals in April.

One team from Greeley -- Rielly Carter, Alexandra Fitzgerald, Caroline Gershman, Anna Hallac, Caroline Lerner and Lori Saxena (advisor: MaryRose Joseph) -- was selected as a Finalist in the Bedford 2020 Greenlight Award contest for their proposal Conscious Cafeteria to promote sustainable food choices among the school community.

Addressing the problem that livestock agriculture produces around one-half of all man-made emissions, Greeley’s Conscious Cafeteria team will work to cause a cultural shift in the school that increases conscious food choice and drives a change in purchasing decisions by individuals and the district. They will build a hydroponic growing system to demonstrate sustainable food and raise awareness about the carbon footprint of various foods. They will track behavior change by students and measure change during their campaign with the hope of inspiring permanent behavior change in the school community.

This team, along with the other finalists, will present the results of their efforts on April 8th at the final event in the Hayloft at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills. The best-executed projects will win the Greenlight Award and cash prizes up to $500.

“All the teams that entered this year’s contest demonstrated just the kind of innovation, passion, and leadership that we need in our world for a sustainable future,” stated Ellen Calves, Program Director at Bedford 2020, the nonprofit that runs the annual contest. “We wish we could fund them all!”

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Additional Round One proposals from Greeley:

Team: Linda Zhang, Maggie Li
Advisor: Joe Montuori
This team plans to reduce student purchases of plastic water bottles by encouraging an eco-friendly alternative – Just Water cartons of water – to reduce plastic pollution and carbon emissions. They plan to do this through an education and outreach campaign and by offering incentives.

Reducing Emissions Through Carpooling
Team: Zach Eichenberg
Advisor: MaryRose Joseph
This team will work to reduce carbon emissions due to transportation to and from Greeley. By surveying the student body they will develop incentives and strategies to encourage walking and carpooling where possible. They anticipate using an app called GoKid to help coordinate carpooling among students.

Soil Savers
Team: Tom Ye, Keegan Li
Advisor: MaryRose Joseph
This team wants to address unhealthy lawn ecosystems in Chappaqua. They propose to increase the use of eco-friendly lawn care, including mulching and composting by installing and maintaining landscape compost bins for the community to add to or take from, promoting the free mulch already available to residents, and conducting soil tests to prove mulching is good for landscapes.

Straight Outta Compost
Team: Eleanor Lynch, Riley Card, Mia Scott, Gregory Caesar, Luca Sonne
Advisor: MaryRose Joseph
Using print posters and outreach and holding an event called Greeley Composting Week, this team will sell compost kits and inspire New Castle and Greeley students to start composting to decrease food waste and promote green habits like gardening.

Bedford 2020 is a non-profit organization leading a community-wide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the Town of Bedford, NY. The Greenlight Award is a project of Bedford 2020 that engages students countywide in environmental innovation and leadership. More information is available at