Rio Americano Student Competes in Environmental Contest

Sacramento Region, CA  |  By Beth Del Real
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Abel Asrese holding his Big Award Check. Photo by Nina Suzuki

Student Awarded the the Funds to Implement his Idea to Preserve Natural Habitats

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) - The Caring for Our Watersheds proposal writing contest challenges students to research their local watershed, identify an environmental concern and come up with a realistic solution. Students with the top ten proposals of 550 that were reviewed presented their ideas to a panel of community judges.

First place is $1,000 cash to the winning team and $1,000 cash to the winning team’s school. In total, over $27,000 in prize and implementation money is available to students and schools who participate in the program.

Finalists were from the following high schools: Colusa, Del Oro, Foresthill, George Washington Carver, Grant Union, Mira Loma, Pioneer, and Rio Americano. Caring for Our Watersheds is a joint program of Nutrien and the Center for Land-Based Learning.

Abel Asrese won $450 in the competition. He also won an equal matching amount for his class at Rio Americano High School. In addition, the student is eligible for $1000 in project implementation funds.
In total, students compete for over $6,000 cash rewards and participating schools are eligible for over $11,000 cash rewards. Nutrien also provides $10,000 in funding to help implement students’ ideas.

Asrese’s proposal is to organize a volunteer event to remove invasive non-native species in a section of the American River Parkway. Invasive species can outcompete native plants, reduce biodiversity, and alter habitats. The event would educate volunteers and target high priority invasives such as Red Sesbania and Spanish Broom.

“The purpose of the contest is simple,” says Nutrien program advisor Lindsey Verhaeghe. “Our goal is to encourage students to learn about their local watershed and be inspired to make improvements to the land, air and water. With community and school support, we have seen the creativity and determination students have for protecting and preserving the environment. It’s inspiring when they turn their ideas into reality.”

Each year more projects are implemented with the help of community resources and environmental organizations. Anyone who enters the contest is eligible for funding to complete his/ her project. “Seeing students implement their projects is truly impressive. Caring for Our Watersheds not only encourages youth-led ideas, but helps make them happen,” says Beth Del Real of Center for Land-Based Learning.

Nutrien is the world’s largest provider of crop nutrients, inputs, and services, playing a critical role in helping growers around the globe increase food production in a sustainable manner. Nutrien produces and markets three primary groups of nutrients: nitrogen, phosphate and potash as well as controlled release fertilizers and micronutrients.

Nutrien’s capabilities and extensive agricultural retail network makes them well positioned to meet the growing needs of their customers. Contact:

The mission of the Center for Land-Based Learning is to inspire, educate and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards. Combining innovative hands-on experience with classroom learning, participants in Land-Based Learning programs develop leadership skills, learn how sustainable agriculture practices contribute to a healthy ecosystem, and create connections to agricultural, environmental, and food system careers. For more information, visit