WCSU announces winner of 2021 Environmental Stewardship Competition

2021 WCSU Environmental Stewardship Competition winner Jahmiya Beamon-Scott with her Westside Academy teacher Beth Manning (contributed photo)

DANBURY, CT – Western Connecticut State University Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences Chairperson Dr. Theodora Pinou announced that the winner of the 2021 WCSU Environmental Stewardship Competition is Jahmiya Beamon-Scott, a student at Westside Academy in Danbury, for her project “Say Goodbye to Fast Fashion.” Despite the effects COVID-19 had on educational partnerships, WCSU and Danbury public school staff continued to work together to educate students about environmental stewardship.

“The judging committee was especially pleased with Jahmiya’s commitment to the project and her passion about the topic,” said Pinou, adding, “This award celebrates students who make an effort to go above and beyond classroom work and take action because they want to make sure that Earth is a biodiverse planet.” Beamon-Scott was awarded the $100 prize and will be featured on the program’s “Finding Our Way” website at www.wcsu.edu/stem/stewardship-project/.

Beamon-Scott researched “Fast Fashion” and the impact it has on the environment for her project. Fast Fashion is cheap, trendy clothing that is quickly discarded by young people. She provided data to show how this industry compromises the environment by filling landfills and increasing fibers that end up in the water cycle as well as information that suggested the industry exploits workers. Her conclusions offered solutions to people’s behaviors such as recycling the clothing or purchasing better quality items that last longer, according to Pinou.

The seventh grader was motivated by her teacher Beth Manning at Westside Academy, who is also working with Pinou on a sea turtle migration classroom activity that integrates mathematics.

“Beth Manning encourages her students to apply for this competition every year, helping her students to see that college is a possibility and that WCSU faculty and Westside Academy teachers work together for them,” said Pinou. “This Stewardship Challenge provides an alternative to classroom work, and allows student voices to be heard and opportunities for families to work together on an environmental stewardship challenge. We are so very grateful that Manning encourages her students to apply to this competition and I hope other middle school teachers will do the same,” she added. For more information on the program, go to www.wcsu.edu/stem/stewardship-project/.
The 2021 WCSU Environmental Stewardship Competition is part of “Finding Our Way,” a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education outreach program of WCSU’s
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences for local public school teachers. This competition is one of the sustained partnerships resulting from a prior National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Education’s Bay Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) Program “Finding Our Way” Middle School grant. As a result, middle school teachers have been trained to integrate water resources and ecosystem biodiversity into their lessons and implement aligned hands-on, self-directed activities that get middle school students involved in environmental science. The program also fosters lifelong interest in protecting the environment through conservation and sustainable practices.

The department now has a summer high school program that provides college readiness and career development opportunities for at-risk high school science students interested in this field of study.

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