2017 Rain Barrel Painting Contest Showcases Creativity Of Local Students With Focus On Conservation And Pollution Prevention

Modified: April 25, 2017 12:05pm

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The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning (“ECDEP”), in conjunction with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, Inc., the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, the Buffalo Sabres Green Team, and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery today announced the winning entries in the 2017 Rain Barrel Painting Contest. Deputy Erie County Executive Maria R. Whyte joined Albright-Knox Art Gallery Director of Education & Community Engagement Jennifer Foley, Western New York Stormwater Coalition Chairman Rich Mrugalski and representatives from the sponsoring organizations today at the Art Gallery to greet contest participants and announce the winners.

The fifth annual contest, which featured the theme “Harvest a Resource, Recycle the Rain,” included a total of 62 entries from schools and organizations throughout Erie and Niagara counties, an increase of five entries from 2016. Each group painting a retrofitted syrup concentrate barrel provided by the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Buffalo, Inc.

Entrants were asked to interpret this year’s theme in a vibrant, eye-catching way in an effort for contestants to learn more about storm water pollution prevention and how it keeps pollutants out of our local waterways. Each rain barrel can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year, with over 60,000 gallons of rain water saved annually from this project alone.

“Using rain barrels is a great way to help prevent storm water runoff and preserve this precious natural resource for better use and as we saw today these colorful and creative entries will eventually be welcome additions to anyone’s backyard,” said Deputy Erie County Executive Maria R. Whyte. “Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz and I were both extremely honored to serve as judges for this contest. Anything we can do to prevent pollution and protect our environment should be embraced. Residents and business owners recognize the importance in protecting our environment and these beautiful rain barrels are a perfect way to raise awareness on this issue, especially with our young people. I want to thank the Department of Environment & Planning and all of our community partners for all of their efforts with this project.”

In addition to Poloncarz and Whyte, entries were evaluated by a judging pool comprised of representatives from environmental groups, higher education institutions, arts and cultural organizations and elected and appointed officials from various levels of government.

“The Albright-Knox Art Gallery was once again delighted to partner with Erie County and other stakeholders from the community on this project,” said Foley. “Based on the entries from this year’s contest, it is obvious our teachers are doing outstanding work in local classrooms throughout the region to help inspire their students. We believe this contest helped to greatly enhance the learning process through creative expression.”

“We were excited to co-sponsor this event,” said Mrugalski. “Using rain barrels is an excellent strategy for homeowners to conserve water and control runoff.”

Prizes were awarded to the top barrels in the following categories:

Elementary Grades K-4:

1st Place – Forest Elementary School (Teacher: Beth Aschbacher)

2nd Place – Wales Primary School (Teacher: Susan Lasky)

3rd Place – Elma Primary School (Teacher: Susan Lasky)

Honorable Mention – Ledgeview Elementary School (Teacher: Kathryn Greene)

Honorable Mention – Riverview Elementary School (Teacher: Carrie Oliver)

Middle School Grades 5-8:

1st Place – Charter Middle School For Applied Technologies (Teacher: Valerie Fiore)

2nd Place – Heim Middle School (Teacher: Denise Woods)

3rd Place – Cheektowaga Central Middle School (Teacher: Tiffany VanDerBeck)

Honorable Mention – Stella Niagara Education Park (Teachers: Susan Sinski and Patrick Liuzzi)

High School Grades 9-12:

1st Place – Buffalo Academy Of Science Charter School (Teacher: Adam Rivers)

2nd Place – Depew High School (Teacher: Lori Bodgan)

3rd Place – Springville Griffith Institute (Teacher: Christy Komenda)

Honorable Mention – Niagara Falls High School (Teacher: Michele O’Connor)

Also joining the event was Erie County Environmental Management Council Chair Anne Bergantz to present the Council’s third annual Environmental Excellence Awards. These awards recognize exceptional projects carried out by municipal and non-profit organizations in Erie County that stand to have a significant and lasting positive impact on the natural environment.

2017 recipients include:

• GObike Buffalo, which worked with the City of Buffalo to produce and adopt two major infrastructure plans, “Complete Streets” and “Buffalo Bike,” to help transform the city by improving the environment and quality of life through the installation of permeable sidewalks and rain gardens and the planting of 28,000 trees to help improve air quality, offer shade and absorb water;

• Erie County’s Natural Habitat Pocket Parks along the Buffalo River, with staff from the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning helping to secure federal Great Lake Restoration Initiative Funding to provide better access to the River, improve the water quality and provided habitat for wildlife;

• WNY Earth Day, an organization made up of volunteers who coordinate the annual “Party for the Planet at the Buffalo Zoo” to help educate children and their families about the conservation of Earth’s resources;

• WNY Sustainable Business Roundtable, a business-driven organization focused on creating an environmentally and economically resilient region through business innovation, knowledge and cooperation through the access of tools to help reduce waste and pollution, protect our waterways, and optimize use of energy and materials.

Background information:

Storm water is rain and snow melt that flows over hard, impervious surfaces like roof tops, driveways, streets, and parking lots. Along the way, contaminants such as lawn chemicals, automotive fluids, pet waste, and litter are collected. These pollutants end up in our waterways each time it rains. A key to preventing storm water pollution is to utilize green infrastructure solutions. Green infrastructure is a collection of practices that capture runoff and allow it to infiltrate the soil as nature intended.

One easy and important green infrastructure practice is storing rainwater for re-use by using a rain barrel. Other methods include planting rain gardens to naturally soak up and filter the runoff, or simply disconnecting gutter downspouts from your home. Using these practices, thousands of gallons of storm runoff can be reduced, keeping pollutants out of our rivers, streams and lakes.

For more information:

On the Erie County Department of Environment & Planning, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/ On the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, visit http://www2.erie.gov/environment/index.php?q=western-new-york-stormwater...