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Local groups to hold Beautiful Future energy-themed contests

Victoria Penate
Staff Writer
In this photo from a past program, a student "considers the global impact of local action," Nevada County Climate Action Now education committee chair Teresa Langness said.
Submitted to The Union

Nevada County Climate Action Now and Sustainable Energy Group have partnered to hold “Beautiful Future” contests this year, open to Nevada County residents and running until Jan. 13.

Students in fourth through 12th grades may enter the literary contest — submitting poetry, an essay, or a short story — or enter their photograph, illustration, sculpture or painting into the visual arts contest. Each of these has a $100 grand prize.

In a solar energy design contest, which holds a $200 grand prize, students in sixth through 12th grades are asked to do some research on solar paneling, taking note of their home’s characteristics and other factors for solar panel set-up, and submit their conclusions along with either a drawing or model of their hypothetical plan to reduce electric use for the building.

On why the organizations chose student-oriented challenges for these contests, Nevada County Climate Action Now education committee chair Teresa Langness said, “For us, this will be an opportunity to offer young people some form of engagement,” adding that most years they host an educational summer camp on climate issues. “As they’re at home with COVID-related social distancing, it need not restrict their creativity just because it restricts their mobility.”

There is, however, “something for everyone,” said Langness.

The final contest, which is for the whole family, is for a Family Energy Prize. Participants will be asked to submit a checklist of “energy actions” taken in their home, filled out according to a contest sheet denoting the points each action is worth. Changing air conditioning filters monthly, for example, is worth 100 points. A comparatively major action such as replacing the home furnace with a heat pump is worth 3,550 points.

The goal of this contest, for which there are 22 actions categorized into home energy, food and waste, transportation, and big upgrades, is to “not only identify future leaders in those areas, but have them engage their families in plans to look at the way the energy use in their own home affects not only their pocketbook but the environment,” according to Langness.

This contest is one she hopes will bring the local community together through the spirit of competition.

“It would be interesting to see families challenge each other, so you see networks of friends participating and having conversations online about how they’re doing with the energy actions at their home,” she said.

Langness said the winners of all contests will be featured in a Family Energy Night, to be held Jan. 21 through Zoom, where children will showcase their submitted works and attendees will “discuss how families in the county are acting as responsible stewards of a beautiful future.”

Donors to the contests include Forest Issues Group and Clean Power Cooperative, and Nevada County Energy Action Plan provided some marketing support, according to a news release.

Victoria Penate is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at vpenate@theunion.com.

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