Sustainable America Blog

Rising Stars: High Schoolers Win National Contest on Sustainability

Will Hart and Shikha Jaaswal

Will Hart and Shikha Jaaswal, winners of the 2014 National Future Business Leaders of America Competition

A few months ago, a couple of local high school students came to us for help with a project. They were looking for information about sustainability and green practices for a video they were producing. We were happy to help, and armed them with plenty of up-to-date information about food and fuel sustainability issues. Little did we know how far their video would take them.

The students, Will Hart and Shikha Jaaswal of Westhill High School here in Stamford, entered their video in 2014 National Future Business Leaders of America Competition. The video earned a first place award for the state of Connecticut, and launched them into a national competition. We are proud to announce that they got first place there as well!

Joined by 10,000 of America’s best and brightest youth at the 2014 FBLA’s National Leadership Conference in Nashville, the pair took home first place in Digital Video Production. The winning video on sustainability discusses the current food and fuel landscape. They recognize that resources are reaching their limits and offer solutions that can “propel us into a smarter, more sustainable future.”

Sustainable America’s own Andy Holtz was interviewed on the subject. Here’s the winning video:

We had the pleasure of getting to know the students behind the acclaimed video and ask them what lies ahead for their bright future.

What inspired you to compete in FBLA’s competition?

When we came across the topic and the task at hand, we were instantly attracted to it as we both felt a passion for educating the general public about sustainability. “Global warming” and “environmentally friendly” are buzzwords in our world and are quickly losing the impact they once held. We felt that recovering the power of those words was something we were very much interested in, and thus began our adventure.

Why did you think it was important?

We felt this topic was a pressing issue in today’s world, as it has not only begun to affect us at the present moment, but is expected to continue to future generations, intensifying in severity as time goes on. The ability to make media that would aid in garnering attention for this movement and deliver a core message to people — that though irreparable damage has been done, there are always actions that every single individual and organization can take to support the restoration and renewal of the world — was something we both deemed important to partake in.

What do you want to do in the future?

Shikha: I will be attending UCONN Storrs in the fall, majoring in finance, and then going on to get an MBA. Though I don’t know what path my future will take, I do know that it will be something allowing me to travel and aid others.

Will: I will be attending Emerson College in Boston majoring in stage and production management as well as marketing communications. I plan on continuing my international environmental work through film and design. I hope to provoke a global change through the work that I do.

Are you involved in environmental issues in other ways?

Our involvement in environmental issues is currently on a personal level, incorporating small steps into our daily routines to become more sustainable. We both actively recycle and are aiming to begin campaigns in our workplaces to increase the green mark we leave on the world.

We’d like to extend a big thank you and congratulations to Will and Shikha. It’s talented, innovative and dedicated young people like them who will help make our vision at Sustainable America a reality for the future. They are an inspiration, and we are proud to have been a part of their work.

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.


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