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Department of the Environment Secretary awards grand prize for “Neil Armstrong, Jr.” sculpture at the 14th annual Rethink Recycling contest


Jay Apperson or Adrienne Diaczok
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Department of the Environment Secretary awards grand prize for “Neil Armstrong, Jr.” sculpture at the 14th annual Rethink Recycling contest

Annual contest promotes recycling and creativity among high school students

BALTIMORE, MD (November 13, 2015) – Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles today awarded prizes for a “Copper Lion,” a “Diabetic Dragon,” and a “Steampunk Deer Skull,” – all made from reused materials – at the 14th annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest, hosted by the department as students from Baltimore County, Carroll County, Garrett County and Frederick County won the top prizes.

The contest challenges Maryland high school students to use recycled materials to create artistic and innovative sculptures. This year 60 entries from 22 high schools across the state were on display. Sponsors of the event were Giant Food, Whole Foods, Constellation Energy, the American Cleaning Institute, Maryland Recycling Network, Call2Recycle, American Visionary Art Museum and the Can Manufacturers Institute. Sponsors donated prizes, funding and refreshments for this year’s contest.

Contest judges tasked with determining the winners of the contest based on creativity, use of materials, and workmanship were:  John Lewis, Assistant Director, American Visionary Art Museum; Rowan Bathurst, local college art student; Melissa Grande, American Cleaning Institute; and Hilary Miller, Acting Director of Land Management Administration, Department of the Environment.

Since 2001, MDE has celebrated America Recycles Day by hosting the annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest. High school students from across Maryland are invited to participate by creating sculptures made of recycled and reusable materials. “Rethink Recycling” is just one way MDE educates and empowers the public to reuse and recycle materials that would have otherwise gone into landfills. To find out what you can do to reduce, reuse, recycle and buy recycled products, visit MDE’s recycling web page.

America Recycles Day, traditionally celebrated on November 15, is a national event that unites business, environmental and civic groups, and local, state, and federal government agencies to promote recycling, source reduction, and the purchase of products made from recycled materials as a means to a more sustainable society.


Cheyenne Reese, Walkersville High School in Frederick County was the Grand Prize winner for her sculpture, “Neil Armstrong, Jr.,” made using foam, bubble wrap, a fishbowl, newspaper, latex gloves, chicken wire and old shoes.   She received a Surface Pro 3 for her efforts.

The category winners, who each received a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 4, were:

  • Creativity: Janice Onigbinde, Century High School, Carroll County, for her work entitled “John,” using screws to create a portrait of a young boy.
  • Workmanship: Lainey Shruell, Century High School, Carroll County, for creating “Steampunk Deer Skull,” a sculpture made of mechanical parts and hardware, styrofoam and toilet paper rolls.
  • Use of Materials: Rosemarie McAulliffe and Carly Blyth, Mount de Sales Academy, Baltimore County, for “Copper Lion,” a sculpture created using Styrofoam, copper wire, tennis shoes and glass test tubes.
  • People’s Choice Category: Molly Browning, Southern Garrett High School, Garrett County, for crafting “Chief,” a bison made using a couch cushion, bike frame, lawn chair, cardboard, pool noodles, bike helmet, pillow cushion, magazines, leather jacket, sweater, soda cans, plastic bottle, blinds, sheets, jewelry and a headboard.

The runners up, who each received $100 Amazon gift cards were:

  • Creativity: Maura McCann, Southern Garrett High School, Garrett County, for “See You Again-Butterfly,” using metal pipes, bedsprings, metal, wire, hardware, wood, lamp & ceiling fan parts, aluminum cans and plastic bottles.
  • Workmanship: Jasmine Tolson, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for crafting “Rainbow Catfish,” made from compact discs, DVDs and newspaper.
  • Use of Materials: Margaret Hobbs, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for constructing “Diabetic Dragon,” with soda cans and LED blubs.
  • People’s Choice: Jason Young, Archbishop Curley High School, Baltimore City, for “Catching Lunch,” a sculpture of a seagull using wire, newspaper, plastic utensils, pencils and wood.


“Thanks to Maryland residents and businesses, we recycled nearly three million tons of municipal solid waste and diverted more than 48 percent of our waste from landfills and incinerators last year. This is a wonderful accomplishment, but we must do more.  Recycling protects and conserves our precious natural resources and keeps materials out of our landfills and waterways.  It is up to all of us to work together to recycle, reuse and reduce whenever possible.”

  • Ben Grumbles, Secretary, Maryland Department of the Environment

“Recycling is an important component of the cleaning product industry’s sustainability profile. Cleaning product manufacturers and suppliers are proud to support educational efforts that shine the spotlight on removing recyclable materials from our waste stream.”

  • Brian Sansoni, Vice President, Sustainability Initiatives at the American Cleaning Institute

“These sculptures are great visionary art work in that they speak to the possibilities in the reuse of materials that would generally be thrown away. I’m stunned by the individual creativity of these students – this is the same spirit that infuses the work that we exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum.  I’d like to thank the Maryland Department of the Environment for encouraging these young artists.

  • John Lewis, Assistant Director, American Visionary Art Museum

MDE’s Rethink Recycling Contest
America Recycles Day
MDE’s Flickr Page


To protect and restore the environment for the health and well-being of all Marylanders.


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