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Elementary School Students Win "Be a Backyard Superhero" Contest

The OPEI, a nonprofit trade association that represents manufacturers and their suppliers of consumer and commercial outdoor power equipment, has announced the winners of the national "Be a Backyard Superhero" contest. Liam Ellis, left, and Jordan Evans, right, accepted the $5,000 checks presented by Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI, on behalf of their schools. The grant money will improve yards and green spaces around the school.

The Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)'s Research and Education Foundation and Scholastic announced the winners of TurfMutt's national "Be a Backyard Superhero" contest. Each of the grand prize winners received a $5,000 grant to improve the yards and green spaces at their respective schools.

The annual contest is part of the TurfMutt environmental stewardship and education program where children learn how to take care of green spaces. TurfMutt and his friends, the Outdoor Powers, inspire the lesson plans, providing a fun and creative way to teach environmental and science lessons. The cartoon-ized TurfMutt character is based on a real-life rescue dog named Lucky.

To enter the contest, students had to submit an essay in 150-200 words showing how they are a "Backyard Superhero." They were encouraged to show how they will help TurfMutt and the Outdoor Powers combat the cartoon-based "environmental villain" characters (known as Carbon Creep, Dust Demon, Dr. Runoff, and Heat Freak). They also had to create an original picture using the character cutouts from the TurfMutt activities.

The winners are:
? K-2 grand prize winner, Jordan Evans, of Trophy Club, Texas. Jordan attends Samuel Beck Elementary School.
? Grades 3-5 grand prize winner, Liam Ellis, of Sewickley, Pa. Liam attends Aquinas Academy of Pittsburgh.
? 50 runners-up in grades K-2 will each receive a book from Scholastic.
? 50 runners-up in Grades 3-5 will each receive a book from Scholastic.

Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI said, "These students are superheroes. It was inspiring to read the contest entries and see how many students are vocalizing a desire to take care of green spaces and be part of a community that makes a difference because of TurfMutt. Helping children have an appreciation now for green spaces and an understanding of how to take care of them, will mean that they value them for life."

Scholastic received 790 entries for the contest, which was announced in February and ended April 13, 2015.

For more information about the TurfMutt program, visit For more information about OPEI, visit

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