Finalists Exhibit Leadership and Persistence for Change

Make conscious cafeteria choices; skip the straw; pack zero waste lunches, use reusable water bottles….

These and other green behaviors were the focus of the 30 students who made up the final teams in Bedford 2020’s fourth annual Greenlight Award contest sponsored by Curtis Instruments.

Each year, Bedford 2020 provides a framework and workshops for all participants in the program, and after the finalists are chosen at round one, they receive funding and support to carry out their projects. At the final event, the finalists present their results and are celebrated for their efforts.

A panel of judges challenges the students with follow up questions and scores each project. The highest scoring group is awarded $500 and the coveted Greenlight Award, and the runner up receives a $250 cash prize.

On April 8, six teams from five high schools inspired the crowd at the final event in the Hayloft at Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture with their presentations about what they did to the change behavior of at least 20 people at least 20 times to benefit the environment. The teams showcased their projects, highlighting the problem they addressed, the behavior they changed, the strategies and tactics they used, and the results they tracked.

And now for the winners…

Change the World One Meal at a Time

Peter Nicholas, a 9th grader at Rye Country Day School, tied for first place with “Change The World One Meal at a Time.”

Problem/Solution/Behavior Change

Peter set out to tackle the problem of pollution and wasted resources associated with factory farming. The solution, to get people to reduce their meat consumption, led him to get his peers and teachers to choose plant based meals one or more days per week.


Peter used a variety of behavior change strategies. He held a contest, offered incentives, and used posters and social media to raise awareness, educate, and promote the contest to get students and teachers to choose plant-based meals instead of meals with meat.


Peter worked closely with the cafeteria staff at RCDS to find out how much meat was served each week, recording data and tracking trends. He also had people fill out “veggie slips” to track how many people swapped meat based meals for plant based meals. Peter reported that at least 53 people swapped meat for veggies at least 20 times. In fact, he reported that 2843 meals were swapped, and meat served in the cafeteria was reduced by 376 lbs in the first 12 days of the contest.

Conscious Cafeteria

Horace Greeley High School 10th graders, Lori Saxena, Caroline Lerner, Caroline Gershman, Alexandra Fitzgerald, Reilly Carter and Anna Hallac, also tied for first place with Conscious Cafeteria.

Problem/Solution/Behavior Change

The students sought to address the problem that food is responsible for “about 17% of global carbon emissions.” Their solution was to raise the consciousness of community members about food choice and to encourage people to change their behavior and buy local food whenever possible.


The Conscious Cafeteria team created hydroponic structures to grow their own lettuce, engaging over 70 students in the project. They mounted an active social media, poster campagin, and community outreach campaign to raise awareness and to obtain pledges from community members.


300 people pledged to buy more local food. Based on a survey distributed at school, 70% of respondents reported they have been thinking more carefully about where their food is coming from, and 75% respondents would like to help maintain the hydroponics structure. The team also reperted that the sale of local food is up in the cafeteria and by serving hydroponic lettuce, 2.56 tonnes of CO2 will be saved per week.

Reusable Water Bottle Campaign

The Reusable Water Bottle Campaign by the Harvey School Environmental Club, Ella Weinstein, Naomi Listokin, Ryan Marder and Andrew Leibowitz, received the runner up designation.

Problem/Solution/Behavior Change

The students sought to address plastic pollution by reducing the number of plastic water bottles sold at their school. Their behavior change campaign sought to have students to re-fill water bottles instead.


Their strategy involved education through presentations, social media, and posters along with making the desired behavior change easier and more desirable by raising money and convincing their school to replace two old water fountains with new, water-filtering, bottle refilling stations. The team also held a design contest and sold water bottles with the winning logo on them to encourage communtiy participation.


The team used an app called Plant Nanny that a focus group of 22 students used to record every time they filled up their water bottle. The group showed they repeated their behavior at least 20 times. Once the first water bottle refilling station was installed, nearly 350 bottles were refilled in only two weeks. With the installation of the second station, the team reported that reusable water bottle use is continuing to increase.

Honorable Mentions

Worm Warriors

Fox Lane High School’s Worm Warrior team engaged 21 classrooms of elementary school students in vermicomposting at Mount Kisco Elementary School.

Participants included Sophia Trejo, Nataly Naranjo, Ariana Jade Ford, Daisy Cruz, Lesli Rodriguez, Vanessa Lopez, AMy Guerra, Heber Perez, Renzo Romero, and Eric Sagastume.

The team educated the students in both English and Spanish about the importance of compost and how to feed and maintain their classroom bins. The rich compost created by their worms will not be sent to the landfill or incinerator, but will be used in the Mount Kisco Elementary School garden this spring.

Skip the Straw

To address the problem of plastic pollution, Skip the Straw focused on reducing the use of plastic straws through the use of incentives, social media, and general awareness tactics at Fox Lane High School. Participants, all freshmen, included Marjory Lopez, Alva Crisostomo, Karen Carchipulla, Melany Giron, Mireyli Morales, Rudy Perez, Josh Ortiz, and Melany Hernandez.

Zero Waste Lunches

This Mamaroneck High School freshman, Anna McDonald, educated over 650 students in 6 different assemblies she held at Chatsworth Avenue Elementary School about plastic waste and composting. She worked with her school district to help bring school-wide composting to the school and recruited students to help with compliance in the cafeteria.

Holding a Zero Waste Lunch Day, Anna showed how packing zero waste lunches combined with composing and recycling can lead to a resulting mere 12% of trash!

Congratulations to All Finalists!

According to Bedford 2020 Board Member Jim Wood who was in the audience at the event, “Those who presented clearly learned so much in the process – how to stand on their own two feet and not only present, but also to respond to the questions raised by the judges in an awe inspiring location. Not only that, they had to coordinate and work together on their projects, challenge their superiors as well as their peers, undertake research, create materials, etc. Bravo to all, and to Curtis for their sponsorship!”

By the finals, each team implemented their projects and proved they catalyzed behavior change through their leadership, creativity, and determination. They have all learned so much since the first Incubator Workshop and have all done a great service to their community. We thank them! This group deserves a lot of praise and we know they will be formidable leaders for our future.

We are extremely proud of all the participants and look forward to engaging even more students next year.

Click here for more information about the Greenlight Award.

Judges and Finalists of the 2018-2019 Greenlight Award ProgramPhotos by Sherry Wolf

Greenlight Award Finals Judges Geoffrey Morris of Town Vibe Media, Dani Glaser of Green Business Challenge and Jeff Tannenbaum of Titan Grove, PaceNation, and S-Power

Change the World One Meal at a Time led a passionate campaign to get people to switch from meat based to plant based eating at Rye Country Day School

Conscious Cafeteria built a hydroponic growing system and moved their community to make more sustainable and local food choices

Conscious Cafeteria’s hydroponic lettuce

The Harvey School Environmental Club worked to change the culture of disposable plastic water bottle use at their school with the Reusable Water Bottle Campaign

The Fox Lane Worm Warriors brought worm composting to twenty-one classrooms at Mount Kisco Elementary School

Fox Lane freshmen taught people in their school about plastic pollution and encouraged them to Skip the Straw

Zero Waste Lunches taught over 650 students at Chatsworth Elementary School about plastic pollution and helped dramatically reduce waste in their school cafeteria.