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State Honoree

Kate Klinkerman

Texas

Kate Klinkerman, 14, of Inez, Texas, a freshman at Memorial High School in Victoria, spearheaded an oil-recycling program called “Don’t Be Crude” in her rural county to help prevent water contamination caused by crude oil dumping. Kate started her campaign three years ago when she noticed her father pouring used motor oil alongside their barn, a common way to control pests and weeds on farms. She had learned in school that crude oil can pollute groundwater, which many people rely on for drinking. “I knew something had to be done,” she said, and resolved to find a way to recycle the huge amounts of oil and hydraulic fluid produced through farming. Two of Kate’s friends joined her, and soon they secured the donation of a do-it-yourself collection unit, found a company that would accept used fluids, and obtained government approval to begin. The team has since given recycling demonstrations and educational talks to thousands, developed an environmental program at area schools, and opened several more collection sites. More than 2,000 gallons of oil and hydraulic fluid are now recycled through her program every month. Kate plans to continue “Don’t Be Crude” for several years, and hopes to expand into neighboring counties.