An L.A. tween water conservationist recently received an award from the The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The extraordinary 11-year-old, Joshua Cigoianu, of Manhattan Beach, earned the 2015 President’s Environmental Youth Award. The national award is presented each year to exceptional students who demonstrate creativity, innovation and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.
“During a severe drought, finding ways to conserve our precious water is everyone’s responsibility,” said Jared Blumenfeld, Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA is proud to honor Joshua’s extraordinary effort to engage fellow students in environmental action and better the lives of those in his community and future generations.”
“Grades of Green is thrilled that Joshua was selected for this prestigious award,” said Allie Bussjaeger, Programs and Outreach Manager for Grades of Green. “Joshua has been a member of the Grades of Green Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program for the past two years, and as his advisor I could not be more impressed by Joshua and all he has done to inspire and empower his peers and the broader school community to care for the environment.”
As a fifth-grader at Meadows Elementary School, Joshua was inspired to do a water conservation project after learning about California’s drought. Working closely with the school principal, he implemented an action plan that included educating his fellow students through signage, changing the way art brushes were cleaned in the classroom to reduce the amount of water used, and ensuring there were adequate recycle bins for water bottles. Joshua also started an Earth Library at the school—creating both a reference list of environmental protection books and writing 17 personal reviews—and advocated for the use of reusable water bottles while giving out “Meadows Water Hero” stickers to those who participated.
Joshua has been recognized for his work multiple times. He’s received the Environmental Hero Award from his city and an Honorable Mention Award from a local non-profit organization. He is currently a student at Manhattan Beach Middle School, where he has started another Earth Library.
Established in 1971, the President’s Environmental Youth Award promotes awareness of our nation’s natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Focused on environmental stewardship, student projects from each of EPA’s ten regions are selected for national recognition. Projects are developed by young individuals, K-12 school classes, and youth organizations. For details on the new PEYA winners, visit their website: