Sorry, you must login to access this area.
If you are not a member of OPEI, please
CLICK HERE to fill out a membership application.

Elementary Student at Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh Wins “Be a Backyard Superhero” Contest Grand Prize for $5,000 Green Space Makeover at School Check Presentation Ceremony to be Held on Monday, June 1 at 1:00 p.m.

May 29, 2015

Gibsonia, Pa.  Organizers of the “Be a Backyard Superhero” Contest will present a $5,000 grant to Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh on June 1 to recognize local elementary student, Liam Ellis, of Sewickley, Pa. Ellis is the grand prize winner of the national “Be a Backyard Superhero” contest for grades 3-5 and attends the Academy. 


WHO: Organizers of the “Be a Backyard Superhero” Contest, the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)’s Research and Education Foundation and Scholastic 

WHAT: Check presentation ceremony for $5,000 grant to improve school green space. Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI and a representative of Scholastic will attend. 

WHERE: Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh, 2308 West Hardies Road, Gibsonia, Pa., 15044 

WHEN: Monday, June 1, 2015, 1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

WHY: The contest entry by Ellis was chosen from 790 entries. The contestwas announced in February and ended April 13, 2015. To enter the contest, students had to submit an essay in 150-200 words showing how they are a “Backyard Superhero.” They were encouraged to show how they will help TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers combat the cartoon-based “environmental villain” characters (known as Carbon Creep, Dust Demon, Dr. Runoff, and Heat Freak). They also had to create an original picture using the character cutouts from the TurfMutt activities. 


Media contacts (media RSVP requested)
Ami Neiberger-Miller, Four Leaf PR on behalf of OPEI, 703-887-4877,
Sara Sinek, Scholastic, 212-343-6899,  

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The annual contest is part of the TurfMutt environmental stewardship and education program where children 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.

The other winners are:

  • K-2 grand prize winner, Jordan Evans, of Trophy Club, Texas. Evans attends Samuel Beck Elementary School.
  • 50 runners-up in grades K-2 will each receive a book from Scholastic.
  • 50 runners-up in grades 3-5 will each receive a book from Scholastic.

About Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh
Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh is an independent private school in the Catholic tradition for boys and girls in grades K-12, located in the northern suburbs of Pittsburgh in Gibsonia. For more information, go to: 

About the TurfMutt Program
In 2015, the expanded TurfMutt program, created in conjunction with Scholastic, includes lesson plans for teachers, take home sheets and learning activities for families, a website and blog, interactive games and a digital storybook. The program’s materials, available at, are free and aligned to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) standards for grades K-5. The TurfMutt program has reached 38 million students, teachers and families since 2009. 

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 Standards Organization (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, OPEI-Canada represents members on a host of issues, including recycling, emissions and other regulatory developments across the Canadian provinces. For more information, visit