TurfMutt national contest winners announced

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s Research and Education Foundation and Scholastic announced the winners of TurfMutt’s national “Be a Backyard Superhero” contest on May 17. 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 grand-prize winner for grades 3-5 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 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,” said Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI. “Creating stories and art helps children apply and share what they are learning. 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 25- to 50-word stories, and students in grades 3-5 wrote 100- to 150-word stories.

Scholastic hosted the “Be a Backyard Superhero” contest Feb. 18-April 6, 2016, and received 790 entries.

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.