Pine-Richland High Schoolers Selected for State-Wide Litter Prevention Program

Pine-Richland High Schoolers Selected for State-Wide Litter Prevention Program

(Trib Live)Every year, PennDOT spends nearly $14 million to clean up litter on Pennsylvania’s roads.

Pennsylvania high schoolers could help change that.

In collaboration with Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, PennDOT has introduced a statewide "Young Ambassadors" program. These ambassadors are tasked with promoting state cleanliness and beauty.

Four Allegheny County students were chosen to be 2022-23 ambassadors – and three of those students attend Pine-Richland High School.

"Right now, we are shaping the world we are going to live in for our entire lives," said Pine-Richland junior Andy Forrester. "We all play a role in keeping our community clean. If everyone does their part, we can truly make a difference."

Forrester will serve as a Young Ambassador alongside Pine-Richland senior Cale Klaff and sophomore Luke Anderson.

Over eight months, the trio will combat litter through clean-up events, networking events, educational events and social media awareness. The goal, Forrester explained, is to influence "as many people as possible" to take care of the environment.

As they help their communities, the Young Ambassadors will also learn about litter, waste management, recycling and civic engagement.

The opportunity comes with pressure and expectations, Anderson said. He plans to deliver an informative speech in front of a crowd this winter, and will organize a clean-up event in the spring.

"Pennsylvania especially has a bad reputation for litter, so people like me are recognized for doing something about all the litter," Anderson said. "There’s definitely a lot of respect when you’re part of the program, but a lot of expectation, too."

PennDOT spokeswoman Alexis Campbell said the introduction of the Young Ambassadors program stems from Pennsylvania’s 2021 Litter Action Plan. The hope is to engage young people and change the state attitude toward littering.

"The next generation is critical in any kind of major societal change," Campbell said. "If this generation of kids grows up not thinking of littering, that’s a really important way to change behavior."

A 2019 study found that Pennsylvania’s roads are home to more than 500 million pieces of litter. When PennDOT invests time and money in picking up litter, workers are prevented from filling potholes or paving roads, Campbell explained.

More than 80 students applied to be the inaugural Young Ambassadors. PennDOT and Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful selected 35. KPB coordinator Kylie McCutcheon said the students with the most passion for the environment were selected.

PennDOT and KPB plan to continue the program over several years, McCutcheon said.

"Students of today hold the key to a sustainable future," McCutcheon said, "and we want a sustainable future."

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