Winners honored by County Commission
With recognition of the student participants having taken place on Dec. 12, Sarasota County’s 2019 NEST Calendar has been made available at county facilities, while supplies last, the county has announced.
“Each year, the Neighborhood Environmental Stewardship Team (NEST) produces the calendar, which supports the county’s goal of environmental stewardship,” a news release explains. “It cultivates a strong conservation ethic in the community’s youth and adults.”
With the theme of the 2019 calendar set as Be the Solution to Plastic Pollution, students were asked to convey ways people can help reduce the amount of plastic littering the environment, especially on the beaches and in waterways, the release notes.
Students from schools across Sarasota County were honored by the Sarasota County Commission during the Dec. 12 board meeting for their participation in the project, the release adds. “During a breakfast ceremony prior to the meeting, commissioners signed each winning student’s calendar.”
Elementary school students in all public and private Sarasota County schools, including charter and elementary-age home-schooled students were invited to participate in the competition, the release points out.
Ty Johnson, a fifth-grade student at Atwater Elementary School in North Port, was selected from hundreds of entrants as this year’s cover winner, the release notes. The other winners, whose artwork is featured by month, were as follows:
- January: Wesley Grant, a first-grade student at Atwater Elementary School.
- February: Annie Sizemore, a second-grade student at Phillippi Shores Elementary School.
- March: Marcella Byzewski, a fifth-grade student at St. Martha Catholic School.
- April: Halle Robertson, a fifth-grade student at Laurel Nokomis School.
- May: Gabriella Stavola, a second-grade student at St. Martha Catholic School.
- June: Blake Pardee, a second-grade student at Venice Elementary School.
- July: Dallena Shelton, a fifth-grade student at Island Village Montessori School.
- August: Sean Ballentine, a fourth-grade student at Taylor Ranch Elementary School.
- September: Emily Smalley, a fifth-grade student at Incarnation Catholic School.
- October: Aria Geimer, a first-grade student at Ashton Elementary School.
- November: Reece Lanum, a fourth-grade student at Garden Elementary School.
- December: Stephanie Orjuela-Ortega, a third-grade student at Imagine School at Palmer Ranch.
Mollie Holland, the NEST coordinator, says that plastics “are becoming the largest environmental threat to Earth’s oceans. Every day, tons of plastic waste from the land finds its way to the ocean, forming vast islands of floating trash,” the release continues.
“Plastic has a direct and deadly effect on wildlife,” Holland added in the release. “Thousands of seabirds, sea turtles, seals and other marine mammals are killed each year after ingesting plastic or becoming entangled in it,” Holland said, noting, “Throughout the calendar there are opportunities to learn simple changes in everyday life that can help reduce the amount of single-use plastic products found in the environment.”