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Maryland Department of the Environment

Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles honors student artists at 20th Annual Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest

Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles honors student artists at 20th Annual Rethink Recycling Sculpture Contest

Annual awards promote recycling and creativity among high school students

BALTIMORE, MD (November 19, 2021) – Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles on Friday presented a grand prize and prizes to eight other student winners today at the department’s 20th annual “Rethink Recycling” Sculpture Contest at Montgomery Park in Baltimore City.

The grand prize winner of an HP laptop was Kimberly Perez Toro, a student at Suitland High School in Prince George’s County. The winning entry was entitled “Moe Jr.” and was made from cardboard, paper, wire, and aluminum tabs. Like each of the entries in the competition, all the students made their sculptures from reused materials. 

Students from Carroll, Montgomery, and Frederick counties won the top prizes in four other categories. This year, 40 entries from 10 high schools in seven counties were on display.

“Maryland’s youthful artists inspire us all to reduce, reuse, recycle, and rethink waste so we can keep protecting the environment and fighting climate change well into the future,” Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles said. “Last year, Marylanders recycled 2.5 million tons of municipal solid waste and diverted more than 42 percent of our waste from landfills and incinerators, with the future looking brighter and greener thanks to student-led innovations and creations.” 

The category winners, who each received Sony Wireless earbuds, were:

Creativity: Griffin Farquhar, Century High School, Carroll County, for “Snake of Depression,” made of cardboard, newspaper, and yarn 

Workmanship: Abbey Jenkins, Liberty High School, Carroll County, for “Scarlet Dragon,” which was made from newspaper, cereal boxes, and popsicle sticks


Use of Materials: Gage Osborne, Northwest High School, Montgomery County, for “The Hurdler,” which was made from a broken hurdle, scrap metal, Gatorade bottles, newspaper, newspaper bags, a paint brush, wire, and cardboard 


People’s Choice: Stevie Francis, Walkersville High School, Frederick County, for “Athena,” which was made from chicken wire, newspaper, and cardboard 


The second-place winners in each category, who received $100 Amazon gift cards, were:

Creativity: Nigel Hafiz, Glenelg Country School, Howard County, for “American Imperialism,” which was made from hangers and a pool noodle
Workmanship: Lacey Dustin, South Carroll High School, Carroll County, for “Maurice,” which was made from bottles, cans, forks, magazines, jewelry, batteries, and decorations
Use of Materials: Kierstan Lang, Century High School, Carroll County, for “Guardian,” which was made from soda cans, paper mache, peacock feathers, toothpicks, foam, tree braces, push pins and plywood 

People’s Choice: Oumou Gningue, Suitland High School, Prince George’s County, for “Antique Jackalope,” which was made brown paper and wooden sticks 

Sponsors of the event were the American Cleaning Institute; Maryland Recycling Network; Maryland, Delaware, D.C. Beverage Association; and Waste Management. Sponsors donated prizes, funding and refreshments for this year’s contest. 

“Improving recycling across all walks of life is very important to the cleaning product supply chain,” said Nathan Sell, Senior Director of Sustainability at the American Cleaning Institute. “ACI and our members are proud to support the creative artwork of students throughout Maryland to help keep recycling front-and-center on a daily basis.”

Contest judges were: John Lewis, curator, writer and former teacher at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA); Chelsea Anspach, communications manager for the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore; Amanda Smit-Peters, manager of Highlandtown Main Street and the Highlandtown Arts Districts; Deirdre Ford-Aikin, owner of York and Penn Public Art Gallery and Triple Crown Towson; and Kaley Laleker, director of the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Land and Materials Administration.

Since 2001, the Department of the Environment 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. It is the mission of the department to protect and restore the environment for the health and well-being of all Marylanders.


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