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California and Virginia Elementary Students Win TurfMutt’s “BE A BACKYARD SUPERHERO” Contest $5,000 Grants to be Presented, Students Learn Creatively About Caring for Living Landscapes

May 17, 2016

Alexandria, Va. (May 17, 2016) – The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s Research and Education Foundation and Scholastic announced the winners of TurfMutt’s national “Be a Backyard Superhero” contest. Each of the grand prize winners will receive a $5,000 grant to improve the yards and green spaces at their respective schools.

The K-2 grand prize winner is Ali Tomlinson of Playa Vista, Calif. and the grade 3-5 grand prize winner is Kashvi Ramani, of Ashburn, Va.

Tomlinson attends Playa Vista Elementary school. Her entry was “Teamwork Makes The Dream Work,” a story about how TurfMutt and the outdoor powers saved a neighborhood. Ramani attends Belmont Station Elementary school. Ramani’s entry was an original rap song, “Outdoor Saviors.”

Both check presentations will be held Wednesday, June 1, 2016.

Fifty runners-up in each grade level will each receive a book from Scholastic.

“This year’s contest entries were very creative. Creating stories and art helps children apply and share what they are learning,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of OPEI. “It’s really heartwarming to see so many children want to take care of green spaces. The TurfMutt program is doing a world of good for children, their families and the environment.”

The annual contest is part of the TurfMutt environmental stewardship and education program where students in grades K-5 learn how to take care of green spaces, TurfMutt and his friends, the Outdoor Powers, inspire the lesson plans, providing a fun and creative way to teach environmental and science lessons. The cartoon-ized TurfMutt character is based on a real-life rescue dog named Lucky.

To enter the contest, students had to create an original picture using the TurfMutt character cutouts. Students wrote stories to accompany their artwork showing how they are Backyard Superheroes and how they are combating the environmental villains Carbon Creep, Dust Demon, Dr. Runoff, and Heat Freak while working to save living landscapes. Students in K-2 wrote stories between 25-50 words, and students in grades 3-5 wrote 100-150 word stories.

Scholastic hosted the “Be a Backyard Superhero” contest and received 790 entries, which started on February 18 and ended on April 6, 2016.

The program’s materials, available at www.TurfMutt.com, are free and aligned to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards for grades K-5. The TurfMutt environmental education program, funded and managed by OPEI’s Research and Education Foundation, has reached 62 million students, teachers and families since 2009.

TurfMutt’s focus on environmental stewardship and best practices for water use and landscape maintenance have been widely accepted among educators, youth and families as well as listed as a resource by the U.S. Department of Education’s Green Ribbon Schools, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Green Apple, the Center for Green Schools, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids, the National Energy Education Development (NEED) project, Climate Change Live, Petfinder and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  

About OPEI

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) is an international trade association representing more than 100 power equipment, engine and utility vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. OPEI is the advocacy voice of the industry, and a recognized Standards Development Organization for the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and active internationally through the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) in the development of safety and performance standards. OPEI is managing partner of GIE+EXPO, the industry’s annual international trade show, and the creative force behind the environmental education program, TurfMutt.com. OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces. For more information, visit www.OPEI.org.

Media contacts

Ami Neiberger-Miller, Four Leaf PR on behalf of OPEI, 703-887-4877, ami@fourleafpr.com
Suzanne Henry, Four Leaf PR on behalf of OPEI, 434-972-7278, suzanne@fourleafpr.com
Sara Sinek, Scholastic, 212-343-6899, ssinek@scholastic.com