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Sacramento Students Compete as Finalists in Regional Environmental Contest

May 20, 2022 12:00AM ● By Center for Land-Based Learning News Release

George Washington Carver High School students holding their big check with award amount pictured from left to right: Bernie Xicotencatl, Arana Katasema, Jaiden Gonzales and Bella Marroquin. Photo courtesy of the Center for Land-Based Learning

Sacramento Students Compete as Finalists in Regional Environmental Contest [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Caring for Our Watersheds proposal writing contest challenges students to research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern and develop a realistic project to address that concern in their community.

Students with the top ten proposals of 315 that were reviewed presented their ideas to a panel of judges at the final competition. First place is $1,000 cash to the winning team and $1,000 cash to the winning team’s school. In total, over $27,000 in prize and implementation money is available to students and schools who participate in the program. Finalists were from the following schools: Foresthill High School, George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences, Grant Union High School, Mira Loma High School, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning and The MET Sacramento. Caring for Our Watersheds is a joint program of Nutrien and the Center for Land-Based Learning.

Mira Loma High School students Clara Nordahl, Celina Chen, Nora Ransibrahmanakul, and Benjamin Hartman and placed first, second, third and fifth respectively, in the 2022 Caring for Our Watersheds contest. 

Nordahl’s proposal is to advocate for passage of the 2022 California Plastic Waste Reduction Regulations (CPWRR) Initiative and a reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic. She plans to raise awareness and garner support for the initiative by creating informational posts and colorful infographics to share online through public social media platforms.

Chen’s proposal is to organize an electronic waste collection program at school and coordinate with Sacramento Regional Conservation Corps for pick-up and transport to the recycling facility. She will also produce and distribute an informational pamphlet on the environmental impact of E-waste and tips for proper disposal/ recycling.

Ransibrahmanakul’s proposal is initiate a school program that teaches sustainability and innovation through the hands-on experience of maintaining a vertical hydroponics system in the classroom. She will install the system and create educational modules explaining the science of hydroponics and the potential benefits of this new agricultural technology.

 Hartman’s proposal is to reduce mask pollution by providing and encouraging the use of biodegradable masks. While still providing the same level of protection, biodegradable masks will not persist in the environment as long as the single-use polypropylene masks.

Nordahl won $1000, Chen won $900, Ransibrahmanakul won $800, and Hartman won $600 in the competition.  They also won equal matching amounts for their classes at Mira Loma High School.  

Arana Katasema, Jaiden Gonzales, Bernie Xicotencatl and Bella Marroquin won $350 in the competition. They also won an equal matching amount for their class at George Washington Carver School of Arts and Sciences. In addition, the team is eligible for $1000 in project implementation funds. In total, students compete for over $6,000 cash rewards and participating schools are eligible for over $11,000 cash rewards. Nutrien also provides $10,000 in funding to help implement students’ ideas.

The team’s proposal addressed an issue that has never been seen before in this contest but was very relevant to them as Resin artists. Their project aimed to promote the use of an eco-friendly art material, Ecopoxy, as an alternative to synthetic resins currently used by many artists. Some synthetic resin products can be harmful to the environment and have adverse effects on human/ animal health. The team created a website and blog and hosted a booth at the Sacramento Earth Day Festival to display their art made of Ecopoxy and educate the public.

“The purpose of the contest is simple,” says Nutrien’s Senior Manager of Community Relations and Investment, Rose Lecky. “Our goal is to encourage students to learn about their local watershed and be inspired to make improvements to the land, air and water. With community and school support, we have seen the creativity and determination students have for protecting and preserving the environment. It’s inspiring when they turn their ideas into reality.”

Each year more projects are implemented with the help of community resources and environmental organizations. Anyone who enters the contest is eligible for funding to complete his/ her project. “Seeing students implement their projects is truly impressive. Caring for Our Watersheds not only encourages youth-led ideas, but helps make them happen,” says Beth Del Real of Center for Land-Based Learning.

Caring for Our Watersheds 2022 – Finalist Placements: 1st, $1000, Clara Nordahl, Let’s Be Plastic Free: Social Media Advocacy Campaign, Mira Loma High School; 2nd, $900, Celina Chen, E-waste Collection Program, Mira Loma High School; 3rd, $800, Noramon Ransibrahmanakul, “Growing UP” - Educating with Vertical Hydroponics, Mira Loma High School; 4th, $700, Mariposa Freeling, Composting for Change, Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning; 5th, $600, Benjamin Hartman, Sustainable Masks, Mira Loma High School; 6th, $500, Hana Yang, Water Conservation Open House, Grant Union High School; 7th, $450, Cameron Kaestner, Recycling at Foresthill Schools, Foresthill High School; 8th, $400, Samuel Hartsell-Jenkins and Kirby Slagle, Reducing and Reusing Food Waste in Our Community, The MET Sacramento; 9th, $350, Arana Katasema, Bella Marroquin, Jaiden Gonzales and Bernie Xicotencatl, Promoting Eco-Friendly Art, George Washington Carver High School; 10th, $300, Greg Bounmy, EcoKicks - A Project Reusing and, Refurbishing Sneakers, Grant Union High School.

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About Nutrien

Nutrien is the world’s largest provider of crop nutrients, inputs and services, playing a critical role in helping growers around the globe increase food production in a sustainable manner. With over 23,000 employees – and operations and investments in 13 countries – Nutrien’s crop inputs and services reach every major growing region of the world. For more information, visit

About the Center for Land-Based Learning

The mission of the Center for Land-Based Learning is to inspire, educate and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders and natural resource stewards. Combining innovative hands-on experience with classroom learning, participants in Land-Based Learning programs develop leadership skills, learn how sustainable agriculture practices contribute to a healthy ecosystem and create connections to agricultural, environmental and food system careers. For more information, visit

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