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State Honoree

Michael Harris

Oklahoma

Michael Harris, 18, of Arapaho High School in Arapaho, Oklahoma, initiated a conservation project when he was just 9 years old intended to raise awareness of the need for environmental resuscitation. Environmental CPR (Conserve, Preserve, Reserve), grew from Mike's love of the land and his frustration with the widespread perception that natural resources are not endangered. ''We have opened a Pandora' s Box releasing erosion, pollution and a 'throw away' mentality," said Mike. "That is not the legacy I want to leave my children." His efforts started slowly, with recycling projects to collect aluminum and plastic. As Mike's ideas for expansion grew, he secured endorsements from local officials, and projects increased to recycling Christmas trees, telephone books, greeting cards, and clothing. Mike works with area businesses, schools and government agencies who serve as collection sites. In addition, he has presented conservation programs for students and community groups, and has written many newspaper articles to raise environmental awareness. He distributes a recycling calendar, works with local radio stations to produce public service announcements, and writes a newsletter detailing the group's efforts. Mike estimates that nearly 470,000 people have been reached with his message of environmental conservation, and over 22,000 pounds of landfill items were recycled.