For planting trees, a group of Salt Lake City students received an award Wednesday from a Bush - President Bush, that is.
Seven students from Jackson Elementary in Rose Park and their teacher, Barbara Lewis, were on hand to receive one of 10 Presidential Environmental Youth Awards given nationally.Josh Aguila, who shook the president's hand and accepted the award for his classmates, "was so excited he couldn't sleep the night before, and didn't eat any breakfast either," Lewis said.
"I got to shake the president's hand, too," Lewis said. "I didn't think I would be so excited by that. I'm usually not by people in high positions."
This latest award for Jackson's Extended Learning Program comes for its "Leaf It To Us" Children's Crusade for Trees.
"We planted 118 trees in Warm Springs Park" near the Utah Children's Museum, said student Audrey Chase. "Some of them were big - up to 400 pounds."
Chase - who had been to Washington before lobbying for her school's program, and to New York City to testify before the United Nations - added that Jackson students lobbied for and received grants from the federal government to help with the planting, and persuaded the Utah Legislature to also approve funds to help children plant trees. They had to partially match the grants.
Lewis said the students helped persuade Congress to set aside some of the money Bush requested for trees in his State of the Union address last year to be used exclusively by youth groups.
Lewis said the Jackson students have also actually become grantors of some tree-planting money from their government grants, passing it on to other youth groups with worthwhile projects who apply to them for it.
Jackson students - who often seem to be in Washington more often than some congressional delegations - have received numerous awards for environmental work, voluntarism and promoting community involvement.
"But this is the first time we have met personally with the president," Lewis said. "President Reagan and President Bush spoke at other awards events, and some of the students even saw (British Prime Minister) Margaret Thatcher, but this is the first time any of us shook hands with the president."
The seven students selected to represent their classmates were able to afford the trip to Washington with the help of gifts from Geneva Steel and U.S. Pollution Control in Utah.