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Champions of the Environment

   2009 - 2010 Grant Winners


Mckissick Elementary School, Easley

McKissick Elementary School, Easley

Troops Memorial Butterfly Garden

McKissick Elementary School began work on their Troops Memorial Butterfly Garden over two years ago with the help of over 100 local businesses, individuals and organizations.  Receiving the Champions Grant has allowed more sustainable elements to be added to the garden.  A student-constructed windmill is being added to power a fountain and an irrigation system has been installed.  Repairs are being made following the harsh winter and evergreen plants will be added.  Native plants that attract butterflies will also be added to the garden, which has come alive this spring.  The garden provides continuous, hands-on learning opportunities, especially for second grade students studying the life cycles of butterflies.  

The Troops Memorial Butterfly Garden is now the first thing visitors and students see as they enter the school.  The students are proud of the their garden and enjoy the opportunity to get their hands dirty helping to maintain it.

View the McKissick Elementary television commercial.



Barnwell Career Center. Blackville

Barnwell County Career Center, Blackville

Barnwell Industrial Park Wetlands Project

Students studying agriculture at the Barnwell County Career Center are working to enhance a wetland area.  They plan to teach others about wetlands by developing hands on activities that can be used visitors at the site of their project.  Students have constructed wood duck boxes and birdhouses to increase habitat at the project site.  Students will also prepare and plant a seasonal food plot with the assistance of local farmers. 

Through their Barnwell Industrial Park Wetlands Project, these students are gaining a better understanding of the function of wetlands, are sharing their knowledge with others and enhancing habitat for animals.

View the Barnwell County Career Center television commercial.



Bluffton High School, Bluffton

Bluffton High School, Bluffton

Be an ECO-Hero

Students involved in the Student Training Empowerment Program known by the acronym S.T.E.P. are hosting ECO-Hero Workshops.  In these workshops, high school and middle school students involved in S.T.E.P. teach elementary school aged children about waste reduction and assist them with the hands-on activity of making reusable shopping bags from gently used T-shirts.  The final product is called a T-bag and over 100 T-bags have been distributed within the community. 

Through the project Be an Eco-Hero students at Bluffton High School are reducing waste, protecting the environment and encouraging others to make changes that will reduce waste.

View the Bluffton High School television commercial.



H. E. McCracken  Middle School, Bluffton

H.E. McCracken Middle School, Bluffton

Protect OUR Watershed – Be River Smart

Students taking Environmental Studies are H.E. McCracken Middle School are involved in an on-going project with the goal of becoming river smart.  Students learn their role in the watershed, how actions at home affect the river and what they can do to protect the water quality of the river systems.  Students are collecting and analyzing water quality samples, working on recycling efforts at their school and are participating in community river clean up efforts.  They are developing of a public service announcement about the May River and  are excited about sharing their watershed steward knowledge with their community.

As these students work on their Protect OUR watershed –Be River Smart project, they are learning and teaching others what they can do to protect and enhance the unique water resources in the Bluffton area.

View the H.E. McCracken Middle School television commercial.



\Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology, Myrtle Beach

Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology, Myrtle Beach

Building and Deploying Artificial Reefs


Approximately fifty juniors and seniors at Horry County’s Academy for the Arts, Science & Technology are involved with building and deploying artificial reefs.  The students first built models for an inside aquarium, then a larger model to be deployed in ponds on the school property. Final ocean deployment of the full sized artificial reef is planned for September and will involve many volunteers. The reef will provide habitat and help with wave attenuation.  Working on this project is allowing students to gain a better understanding of food webs, the aquatic environment as well as wave dynamics. 

Thru participating in the hands-on aspects of Building and Deploying Artificial Reefs, students are developing a more inquisitive attitude toward their learning, and some are pursuing SCUBA certification.

View the Academy of Arts, Science & Technology television commercial.



Pine ridge Middle school

Pine Ridge Middle Scool, West Columbia

Tying It Together: Healthy Soil, Healthy Water, Healthy Plants, Healthy Students

Seventh graders at Pine Ridge Middle School are planting a garden that has many environmental benefits. The garden will be fertilized with composted lunchroom scraps and watered using collected rainwater. The garden improves air quality on campus by reducing the area of lawn needing to be mown. Water quality also benefits because grass removed from the garden site is planted to cover bare soil and reduce erosion.

The Tying it Together project will produce healthy food while being healthy for the earth.

View the Pine Ridge Middle School television commercial.


Wren High School

Wren High School, Piedmont

Wren Champions of Water Quality

Wren’s AP Biology students want to reduce water pollution. They are the leaders of a projet that involves almost a quarter of the student body. Science students are testing water quality and researching the pollutants that affect water quality. Service learning students are surveying business owners to hear their questions about water and water quality. And, graphic arts classes will design educational materials about water pollution for their community. There are even plans for foreign language students to translate pollution prevention messages into other languages spoken in the community.

Wren Champions of Water Quality is a great project that involves and educates students who in turn educate the community about water quality and pollution prevention.
View the Wren High School television commercial.


Trident Academy

Trident Academy, Mt. Pleasant

Sustainability from Sea to Shining Sea

Trident Academy middle school students formed an ecology club to carry out simple sustainable projects. Students have a road map of actions to work on as they study of the United States in their classrooms. The students will reduce waste, conserve resources and teach others how to reduce their impact on the natural world. Projects include painting light switch covers to encourage energy conservation; making reusable gift bags, holding a book swap, and using solar cookers on “Survivor Night”, an electricity and technology free campout.

By the end of Sustainability from Sea to Shining Sea Trident students will understand how small actions can help make our nation environmentally sustainable from Sea to Shining Sea.

View the Trident Academy television commercial.


West Ashley High School

West Ashley High School, Charleston

WATER Wildcats Attack Rainwater Runnoff

The West Ashley Team of Environmental Researchers is working to reduce runoff pollution on campus. These W.A.T.E.R. Wildcats are planting a rain garden to filter pollutants picked up by rainwater as it flows over sidewalks, and off the school’s roof. This cleans the water before it drains into stormwater ponds and into the wetlands beyond. Students will monitor water quality in the pond before and after the garden is planted. Students will place educational signs around their project area to teach anyone who visits about the importance of clean water. 

As the W.A.T.E.R. Wildcats Attack Rainwater Runoff, they are protecting water quality and preserving habitat for animals and people alike.

View the West Ashley television commercial.


LowCountry Institute, Okatie with Whale Branch Middle School, Seabrook

Habitat Enhancement for Native Birds

Educators from the LowCountry Institute (LCI) are working with Whale Branch Middle School students to make their schoolyard a better place to live for local birds. The educators are teaching students about birds and why there are fewer of them today compared to a few years ago. To help local birds, including those that like to build nests in tree holes, the students are building and posting birdhouses and planting native plants to provide food and nesting materials.

Through Habitat Enhancement for Native Birds students at Whale Branch Middle School will gain an appreciation for a special group of animals from their own community. And their actions will have a positive impact on the survival of local birds now and in the future.

View the 2008-2009 Champions.