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San Juan Unified students win big in regional environmental contest

Three San Juan Unified high school students recently participated in and received funding from the annual Caring for Our Watersheds contest. The annual contest is sponsored by Nutrien and the Center of Land-Based Learning, challenging students to research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern and come up with a realistic solution.

“The purpose of the contest is simple,” said Nutrien program advisor Lindsey Verhaeghe. “Our goal is to encourage students to learn about their local watershed and be inspired to make improvements to the land, air and water.”

Bethany Sapigao and Larissa Mayor from Mira Loma High School received $700 and $350, respectively, while Abel Asrese from Rio Americano High School received $450. Each student is now eligible for project implementation funding worth $10,000.

“We only have one chance to live in this world so we must do our part in caring for it,” said Sapigao, a 10th grader at Mira Loma. “If each individual does their part, we can strive for and hope for a better, cleaner environment.”

The projects the students put together are very unique. Sapigao’s proposal is to install dual-flush handles to all public schools in an attempt to improve water efficiency, while Major wishes to create a fun educational event for elementary students to raise awareness about recycling. Asrese plans to organize a volunteer event to educate individuals on how to remove invasive non-native species to prevent alterations to certain habitats.

“The upcoming generation is what is going to keep our planet alive,” said Mayor, a 9th grader at Mira Loma. “If we don’t teach them the importance of things like recycling and taking care of our watershed, we wouldn't’ have a place to call home.”

Bethany Sapigao Abel Asrese Larissa Mayor