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West Valley City Journal

Granger students win clean air quality marketing contest

May 02, 2022 09:21PM ● By Liz Craker

Elizabeth Ortiz-Segura, Sophie Estrada, Ailyn Madrid and Rachel Scarber with their state winner awards. (Photo courtesy of Utah State University)

By Liz Craker | [email protected]

Four Granger High School students were among the winners of the 2022 Utah High School Clean Air marketing contest. The students participated in the event at Utah State University’s Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (NEHMA) Community Art Day in February.

Approximately 1,000 Utah and southern Idaho high school students created clean air public service announcements for the contest. The Granger High School winners were Rachel Scarber (Cache Clean Air Consortium Award $200), Elizabeth Ortiz-Segura (Garbett Homes Award $100), Ailyn Madrid (Wasatch Property Management Award $100), and Sophie Estrada (Big West Oil Award $100). There were also 60 finalists who received $50 gift cards from local merchants and eateries, and 23 state winners/honorable mentions who received up to $250 cash awards. 

Extension Sustainability Professor Roslynn McCann and Jon M. Huntsman School of Business Professor Edwin Stafford from Utah State University created the contest in 2015 to encourage Utahns to keep air pollution down by avoiding idling, using public transportation and trip-chaining. “The purpose of the contest is to engage high school students who are learning to drive to understand the effects of their driving on air quality,” Stafford explained. 

Stafford encourages students to participate in the contest by going into various art, business and environmental classes to teach the students about Utah air quality and how our driving affects it. “We teach about inversions, why they occur, and why mobile transportation contributes to 50% of them,” he added. 

Stafford also focuses on anti-idling efforts and trip chaining. “When you are idling, you are literally breathing the fumes of the car in front of you. A car is most polluting when idling in places like a drive-thru,” he said. During the pandemic when more people are using drive-throughs to pick up food they are often unknowingly contributing to poor air quality Stafford said.

Stafford explained that trip chaining is combining all errands into one trip. He said that a vehicle’s catalytic converter has to get to 750 degrees to burn the most emissions. If all errands and trips are separate, the catalytic converter never gets to its most effective heat level.

Stafford added that he is not simply lecturing on air pollution, but he is also teaching advertising techniques for the students to implement to initiate long-term change.

According to Stafford, research suggests that the schools are not teaching about air pollution.  “This is our most salient sustainability issue. We hope this contest will help the next generation of drivers adopt better driving and sustainability skills,” he said. “Hopefully, their new behaviors can stick with them throughout their lives."

Stafford said that there is a level of problem solving involved to get the students’ message across. “When they want to execute a professional method and they have to come up with a way to do it, the project takes more effort and more commitment,” he said.

“The contest was designed to engage the protégé effect in which children act as teachers, and they are able to learn the material better. That makes them the teacher. They have to be clever about it and the own popular culture how to come up with compelling advertising,” Stafford said.  “Students who have won the contest realize they have to live out what they have learned as they take ownership of their new knowledge.”

The Granger students were guided by Granger High School art teachers Kathleen Warren and Alysson Galarza for the contest. “Both have been instrumental in motivating Granger students to produce some outstanding artwork for their public service announcements,” Stafford said. “Granger has been one of the powerhouses that last couple of years.”

“Our collaboration between USU, Dr. Edwin Stafford, myself and Granger Students has grown over time and guides me to support my students observe reflect and create ad campaigns that raise awareness regarding Utah's air quality problems,” Warren said. “After working together, we feel a shared responsibility to help resolve and inform others on how to be more conscious and aware of our air quality and the problems we face in the future years to come.”

“I was really excited when I won. Through the contest I learned a lot about the environment and how idling cars is bad,” junior Aylin Madrid said. Senior Elizabeth Ortiz-Segura added, “I learned that Utah’s air is really bad compared to other states because in a valley the bad air has nowhere to go.”

Junior Sophia Estrada said she also learned about the effects of idling, particularly the idling that families do when they are picking up their children from activities. 

The winning PSAs are being shared over social media and in school displays. Sorenson Communications shows all 23 PSAs in a rotating slide show over TV monitors in its lobby to educate employees about Utah’s air pollution. Several other organizations have been uploading some of the winner PSAs on their social media as well.

Starting July 16, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts will be hosting a broader exhibit titled, “Air,” that will feature our 2020 winners along with works by other Utah artists focused on Utah’s air pollution.

Annie Burbidge Ream from the Utah Museum of Fine Arts is the key sponsor of the contest for Granger High School, and she provides funding for 14 $50 gift cards for all the finalists from Granger High School.

“These students are the next generation of drivers, and we hope they will adopt better driving and transportation habits through this contest,” Stafford said.