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Public Papers - 1991 - November

Remarks on Presenting the Environmental Youth Awards

1991-11-05

Welcome all. And thank you, Bill Reilly, for getting all this together. And I'm glad to see our in-house environmentalists, CEQ Chairman Mike Deland, sitting over here. And I also want to thank the EPA regional officers and the teachers and the administrators, who together make this program work.

And finally, let me especially welcome the award winners, America's young environmentalists, welcome all to the White House on this cool, clear, you-can-see-forever day. And think back to when you started your projects. You may have set out to make your community a bit cleaner or to come up with a way to re-use resources we use every day and simply toss in the trash, but the example you set shines far beyond your school and far beyond your neighborhood. What you've done tells other kids, ``You can make a difference.'' What you've done inspires adults to follow your lead.

Let me give you a true example. Two years ago at the very same place, same awards setting, one winner came up to the stage to shake hands, which I hope you all will do, and asked me, ``Do you recycle at the White House?'' [Laughter] And I told him, ``Well, if we don't already, we do now.'' [Laughter] That kid's probably running for Congress out there somewhere; he was 10 at the time.

Well, today I am pleased to announce to this year's winners that last week I signed an Executive order, effective immediately, instructing that all Federal Agencies here in Washington and out in our regional offices all across this country introduce recycling programs. Some of them have them, but not all.

And I also ordered our Agencies to use recycled materials wherever possible. So, we are serious about recycling.

Whether it's recycling waste or reclaiming a stream or a shoreline or raising the overall environmental awareness, each one of these winning projects is a marvel to your imagination, to your energy, and to your ingenuity. No matter how different, each one shows how an idea that originates in the classroom can have an impact in the community.

I can't single out all of you, but I hope you won't mind that I just make a special mention of our youngest environmentalists, who happen also to come from farthest away: the second grade classes from Mililani Town, Hawaii. I understand Karla -- and I want to be sure I get this right, is it DeGuchi? Right pronunciation? Good. Karla -- I didn't want to get that wrong -- has made a long trip from Oahu to accept the award today for all her classmates. Karla and her fellow students started with a slogan, ``Earth Day, Every Day,'' and set up a series of projects to show how they could do their part to take care of our Earth. And they put up bird feeders and turned trash to compost and planted trees.

But they didn't stop there. They set up a school-based recycling drive, and it may surprise you to hear what these second graders from Hawaii did with the money they raised. They used it to ``adopt'' four acres of endangered rain forest, Guatemalan rain forest, to preserve a small corner of nature that they will probably never see.

Other projects start out as selfless acts and, along the way, prove that looking after our environment makes good, sound business sense. Take the students from Hawthorne Elementary School in Salt Lake City. They set out to clean up a creek running through the business district, a creek that had literally become a dumping ground. As the kids cleaned this creek, they found the garbage, all the cans, glass, and bottles dumped there, had some value, had some real value. And so, they sold it for scrap, call it ``Trash for Cash,'' and used the money they made to keep the cleanup going.

Together, they transformed that unsightly trash heap into a nature park. And they gave it a new name, Hidden Hollow, and today it's a learning center for other students, a kind of outdoor classroom encouraging everyone to be environmentally aware.

You're here today because of the way you look at the world. You look at the sky above, the trees, rivers, and streams all around and see them for what they are: nature's gift, something precious we must preserve and pass on years from now to your children.

And once again, congratulations to all of you. And I hope that all Americans, young and old, in the Government and back in your communities, can join as partners in preserving our environment.

And now, with our able Administrator's help, Bill Reilly's help, we'll ask you to come up on stage to receive your awards. And thank you all for being here.

[At this point the President presented the awards.]

Thank you all very, very much. It's a great day and how inspiring it is to see this work. It's wonderful. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:25 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building.

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