Cedar Rapids Gazette: Homegrown--Eco Stars in Iowa

Friday, March 9, 2012

Two Iowans are among the top 5 in a national contest to determine our nation’s next generation of energy leaders.

Elliott Beenk of the University of Iowa and Casey Fangmann of Iowa State University will both compete to be America’s Next Eco-Star.

Both finished in the top 10 in online voting that ended Feb. 24 and were selected for the top five.

Casey is a junior in Industrial Engineering at ISU and a native of Cedar Rapids.

Elliott is a UI Office of Sustainability intern and UI College of Engineering student.

Now it’s up to an expert judging panel comprised of representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, the Salzburg Global Seminar‘s Sustainable Futures Academy and SmartPower President Brian F. Keane. The ultimate winner will be announced on March 16th.

The top 5 were chosen from a list of 10 that competed for online votes.

Here is information about the top 10 from SmartPower:

Brett Edwards, also known as the eco-conscious rapper “Mr. Eco,” topped the list with 1,371 unique votes. The California Polytechnic State University student is a project intern for the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus Program, where he created Mr. Eco as an outreach tool. Mr. Eco’s raps include “The Prince of Fresh Air” and “You Can’t Find Me In The Tub.”

The cross-section of music and sustainability has proven to be an effective campaigning tool, as musician Elliott Beenk from the University of Iowa finished second after the public voting period closed, with 1,022 votes.

Also among the top 10 were Casey Fangman of Iowa State University, Chris Castro of the University of Central Florida, Lewis Segl of the University of St. Thomas, Mary Nell Johnson of the University of North Carolina, Katie Romanov of Middlebury College, Ian Champ of Purdue University, Zohra Roy of the George Washington University, and Megan Nicholas-Harper of Mills College.

“It is an honor to be the top vote recipient after the first round of the competition among a group of individuals who are all truly Eco-Stars,” said Edwards. “To reverse climate change, we all need to be on the same team and it is great to see individuals across the nation with the same passion I have fighting for sustainability.”

The top 10 Eco-Stars will move to the next phase of the competition where SmartPower’s staff of energy experts will determine the top five. Finally, a guest panel of judges, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, will determine the winner, who will be crowned America’s Next Eco-Star.

The winner will receive:

  • An all-expenses-paid trip to the summer 2012 Sustainable Futures Academy at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria; and
  • A fellowship in the Washington, D.C., office of SmartPower.

The winning contestant’s college or university will receive:

  • A $1,000 grant to the school’s sustainability office;
  • An invitation for the school’s president to join a select group of sustainability experts at the 2012 Sustainable Futures Academy at the Salzburg Global Seminar; and;
  • National recognition as the home of America’s Next-Eco Star and a leader in campus sustainability.