Hillaker’s winning program, “Project E.A.R.T.H.: Environmental Awareness Reaching Teen Homes,” is designed to raise environmental awareness, sustainability and promote stewardship among teens. The project begins with students identifying a polluted or underdeveloped piece of land in the community to transform into an outdoor learning center, also known as “place-based learning.” “Project E.A.R.T.H.” provides an innovative way to expand learning opportunities to ‘at-risk’ youth while strengthening the community, improving achievement and decreasing inner city drop-out rates. Students will explore factors that influence population dynamics, evaluate situations that disrupt ecosystems and analyze the impact humans have on the environment. Students will then plan, design and execute the project, giving them a sense of ownership and pride that will lead to sustainability and awareness of our environment. The program will provide students with the resources they need to utilize a hands-on approach while learning biology, environmental studies, urban gardening and other complex science concepts. “Project E.A.R.T.H.” will partner with local organizations to foster a community effort that teaches students citizenship, teamwork and sense of community. Hillaker lives in Goodrich.