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President's Environmental Youth Award

President's Environmental Youth Award

Your project - or one you are sponsoring - could be an award winner. Apply or encourage a student you know to apply for PEYA and see what a difference they can make for the environment with an award-winning project. Applicants from all 50 states and U.S. territories are eligible to compete for a regional certificate of special recognition and a national Presidential award.

History and Basic Information about the President's Environmental Youth Award

The President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth. The PEYA program promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources and encourages positive community involvement. Since 1971, the President of the United States has joined with EPA to recognize young people for protecting our nation's air, water, land, and ecology. It is one of the most important ways EPA and the Administration demonstrate commitment to environmental stewardship efforts created and conducted by our nation's youth.

Each year the PEYA program honors a wide variety of projects developed by young individuals, school classes (kindergarten through high school), summer camps, public interest groups, and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness. Thousands of young people from all 50 states and the U.S. territories have submitted projects to EPA for consideration. Winning projects in the past have covered a wide range of subject areas, including:

  • restoring native habitats
  • recycling in schools and communities
  • construction of nature preserves
  • tree planting
  • installing renewable energy projects
  • creating videos, skits and newsletters that focused on environmental issues 
  • participating in many other creative sustainability efforts

Evaluation results consistently demonstrate that participation in the PEYA program is frequently a life-changing experience for many of the young people and their project sponsors.

How the Program Works

PEYA has two parts — a regional award for Grades K-5 and a regional award for Grades 6-12.

Applications are due December 31, 2015. A regional panel will review applications from each of EPA’s 10 regions. Up to two winners will be selected from each region – one for Grades K-5 and one for Grades 6-12. If a group of students is applying from a variety of grade levels, they should apply for the grade level of the oldest participant. For example, if a group of students in Grades 3, 5, 6 and 8 is applying for the award, the students should apply for the Grade 6-12 award.

Each award-winning project will receive a Presidential plaque. All qualified applicants will receive a certificate honoring them for their efforts to protect human health and the environment.


  • Project is completed while the student(s) are in kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Student(s) are citizens of the United States or its territories or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residency.
  • Project is sponsored by at least one adult.


  • Sponsor must sign and date page A-2 of the application.
  • Project must be summarized on the pages provided in the PEYA application form (no more than 300 words).

How to Apply for the National Award Program

Step 1: Review the Eligibility Criteria

  • Project is completed while the applicant(s) is in kindergarten through 12th grade.
  • Applicant(s) is a citizen of the United States or its territories or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residency.
  • Project is sponsored by at least one adult.

Step 2: Complete an Application

  • Download the application.
  • A project summary of up to 300 words must be provided on the application form.
  • A more detailed description of the project, addressing each of the evaluation criterion should be attached to the application. The project description can be up to 5 pages.
  • Applicants are encouraged to submit photographs, newspaper articles, and other supporting materials to provide a more comprehensive view of the project.
  • Sponsors must sign and date page A-2 of the application. Sponsors will be notified of the application status in March 2016.

Step 3: Submit the Application

  • Applications can be submitted electronically or by hard copy (through U.S. Commercial Delivery Service).
  • All sponsors will receive a confirmation email upon receipt of the application package.
  • Email completed applications and supporting materials to peya@epa.gov by 11:59 p.m. EST on December 31, 2015.
  • Hard copies must be sent by a commercial delivery service and must be delivered by 5:00 p.m. EST on December 31, 2015 to be eligible for consideration.
  • Mail completed application materials to:
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Office of Environmental Education
    Attn: Carly Carroll
    William Jefferson Clinton North, Room 1426
    1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, MC 1704-A
    Washington, DC 20460

Judging Criteria

Each application is evaluated by a regional awards panel. The panel members review and evaluate each application based on the criteria. A maximum of 100 points can be awarded to a given application.

Evaluation criteria for PEYA applications
Evaluation Criteria Points

Youth Initiative: To what extent was the project designed, coordinated, and implemented due to the young person’s or persons’ initiative? How was the project created and completed by the applicant(s)? The driving force for the project must be the young person(s), not the sponsor.

25 points

Environmental Need and Appropriateness: To what extent was there a clear environmental need for the project? How appropriate was the project for the community in which it was performed?

20 points

Environmental Impact: To what extent was there a need for this project? How did the project positively affect the community? Were there any long-term environmental benefits or outcomes of the project? 

15 points

Completion of Goals: Were the goals accomplished?  How were they accomplished? 

15 points

Community Involvement: To what extent did the project positively involve others in the community? What community resources, expertise, leadership, or publicity did the applicant(s) use?

10 points

Project innovation: How did the applicant(s) use innovative approaches to achieve positive results?

10 points

Soundness of approach, rationale, and scientific design: Was the approach to the problem clear? Did the applicant(s) have a sound justification for choosing that approach?  If so, what is that justification?

5 points
Total 100 points

Recognition of Winners

Each year, EPA gives a certificate of special recognition to each qualified applicant and a Presidential plaque to the national award winners.


Each young person or group of young people applying for PEYA must be represented by a sponsor. The sponsor must be an adult and may be a parent, teacher, youth group adviser, summer camp counselor, community leader, or other interested individual. The adult sponsor plays an important role in helping a young person or group of young people carry out a project and apply for PEYA.

Typically, a sponsor offers suggestions and advice throughout the project to:

  • develop a sound project approach;
  • implement the project;
  • work with other groups and individuals in the community;
  • complete the application form (The sponsor must also sign and date the application.); and
  • prepare accompanying materials.

Questions about the role of a sponsor should be directed to peya@epa.gov.

Resources for Sponsors


Questions about the program should be sent to peya@epa.gov.