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Extension Education Highlight: Utah Clean Air Marketing Contest

Sariah Israelsen: This is Utah Public Radio. I'm Sariah Israelsen. Thanks for joining us for USU Extension Educational highlight. Roslynn McCann, sustainable community specialist is here to talk about the Utah Clean Air Marketing contest for this year. Thanks for being here!
Roslynn, tell me about this contest. What is it exactly?

Roslynn McCann: Sure. So, my colleague in the Huntsman School of Business, Ed Stafford and I, identified a need to educate youth, especially youth learning how to drive, about Utah's air quality issues.

And we decided to do so through a fun educational approach of a contest where we'd solicit prizes, and visit school classrooms, high school classrooms, and teach about Utah's air quality issues.

And then to have the teachers organize high school level competitions, and then the top winners from each high school would then go on to a state level competition and then be able to compete for larger prizes and a recognition with their artwork displayed at the Nora Eccles Museum of Art at the Utah State University campus and compete for larger cash prizes and receive a Utah State certificate as well for their achievement, their artwork, really showing not just artistic ability, but also having a strong environmental message and effective way of raising awareness and changing behavior around better driving practices to improve our air quality.

Sariah Israelsen: So, what input do you have about the winners of this year's contest?

Roslynn McCann: So I'm really excited about the finalists, we had over 30, judges evaluate the final submissions, and those will be recognized coming up on February 11.

And the artwork really, and messaging varies from scary fear tactics to beautiful imagery that draws your eye in and then communicates about alternative modes of transit that you could engage in. And the level of talent, it seems, is really increasing each year. It's amazing to see what high schoolers can do as far as their artistic abilities.

Sariah Israelsen: You were one of the original people that created this contest, what did you hope would come out of this?

Roslynn MacCann: Well, the contest is definitely expanded in geographic range. And in numbers of people competing, we had over 800 people competing this year.

And that is just absolutely incredible, because we started with one high school up in Cache Valley. And now we're reaching schools across the state, all the way down to San Juan County, up beyond Cass County, even into southern Idaho.

And that, that is well beyond what we originally hoped. But from the beginning, our original goals haven't changed much of raising awareness about Utah's air quality issues. And the fact that vehicles are one of the top contributors to our air pollution in the state.

And so, it's a huge opportunity for people to engage in behavior change that actually has impact direct impact on our health and surrounding environment. And so, it's something that each one of us can make a difference and improve our air quality by driving less idling less and engaging in modes of transit that are shown to increase our cognition when we arrive to work like biking.

For example, we can combine our mode of transit with our physical activity for the day, we engage more with our community when we're on a bicycle or walking to our destination. And it's shown to be associated with higher levels of happiness as well.

And so, there's multiple benefits of shifting our patterns away from single driver commuting. And I'm really happy to see our youth advocating for those.

Sariah Israelsen: Is there anything about this contest that we haven't touched on that you would like to talk about?

Roslynn McCann: I would encourage anyone who has interest and is able to visit the display at the Nora Eccles Museum of Art up on the USU Logan campus. And if they aren't able to on the USU Extension sustainability social media pages we have will have it on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

We will be showing the top winners of this year's contest on there. So, if you aren't able to visit the museum, you could do that on the social media pages instead and see how our youth are tapping into pop culture and other forms of communication to try and get people to change their behavior and see what happened in those final submissions and who the top winner was that way.

Sariah Israelsen: Thank you so much for being here, Rosalyn!
And thanks for listening to USU extension educational highlights. Stay tuned for more next week.