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Best Eco Activist 

Kate Corwin

Kate Corwin saw a void. While a smattering of schools in Kansas City's more affluent corners were incorporating aspects of the growing green movement into their curriculums, kids in the inner city were being left out. So the former businesswoman started Green Works, an organization that, in the past two years, has taught students at DeLaSalle alternative school how protecting the planet can put cash in their pockets. In creating her curriculum, Corwin found videos with diverse characters so that the urban-core kids would see people like themselves in the burgeoning industry, and she created lesson plans emphasizing that environmentalism isn't the domain of the wealthy. Her students tend to be skeptical at first, but she proves that being green is a great way to get a job. The kids take field trips to recycling facilities and water treatment plants, and Corwin gets them paid internships over the summer. It's starting to have an impact. Students who were banking on winning American Idol are learning that they can make comfortable livings at local engineering firms or city water services. They're putting recycling bins out in front of homes in neighborhoods more likely to be marred by illegal dumping. One student, Corwin notes proudly, even gave up hairspray.

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