"Celestial Beauty" by Natalie Bradley, Alyssa Davis, Austin Freund, Makayla Phoebus, & Autumn Smith. (students from Kennard-Dale High School)

eARTh Day Treasures

Story by Michael Vyskocil for YRK Magazine

What better way to honor Mother Earth than with recycling? How about celebrating recycling by turning recycled items into art? The York County Solid Waste Authority (YCSWA) proves that “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” by inviting York County high school students to participate in an art contest involving recycled and “trashed” materials each year for Earth Day.

YCSWA hosted a public reception for its fourth annual Earth Day Recycled Art Contest Thursday, April 19, at the Creative York West Gallery, 118 W. Philadelphia St., in downtown York.

Contest Details 

Students entering the contest were given only a few guidelines:

  • Entries must be created with only 100 percent recycled, recovered or found content with the exception of paints, dyes, adhesives, canvas and mounting hardware.
  • Entries can include any material as their medium, except for food matter.

Local businesses in York, Refindings and LifePath Christian Ministries, generously opened their doors to the students participating in the contest, donating materials for use in creating their projects. YCSWA even held a “Picker Day” at Refindings where the students gathered together to rummage through the store’s recovered treasures for anything they wanted to turn into art. The art installments created were placed on display in Creative York West Gallery from April 14-21.

Prize awards included $600 in art supply gift certificates for first place, $400 for second place and $200 for third place. The awards were split evenly among the winning artists and their school districts.

The Heart Behind the Event

Mindy Waltemyer, community services specialist at YCSWA, understands how important it is that students have the opportunity to participate in creative events. “Some schools aren’t able to sustain art programs. A lot of funding has been cut, so if we can offer them an opportunity to participate in a creative project that also broadens their environmental awareness and provides them an opportunity to think about environmental problems, that’s what we want to do.”

The YCSWA began the contest as a way to reach high school students in York County with its messages on environmental consciousness. Thirty-five students from eight different school districts, such as Central York High School, Kennard-Dale High School, Northern York County High School and Red Lion Area Senior High School, entered the Earth Day Recycled Art contest this year. The noteworthy turnout for participation shows that high school students in the York community are excited about the opportunity. Their generation, dubbed Generation Z, is often acknowledged for their motivation to create a more sustainable planet, and the Earth Day Recycled Arts Contest shows their willingness to contribute in whatever way they can.

Waltemyer says that each year she’s in awe of the participants’ creativity. “I’m always surprised by the pieces that come in, what comes out of their minds and the amazing ways that they’ve thought of using everyday materials to create something special.” She says that each contest brings her such great respect for the time and effort of the students and hopes that the event can provide the York community with a deepened sense of pride in the young artists and thinkers of York.

Why York?

Waltemyer, a York native herself with deep roots in the community, is passionate about environmental challenges and the unique, cutting-edge ways that York County tackles waste management. When asked why she chooses to work and hold events such as the Earth Day Recycled Art contest in York she responded, “I am proud of my community and I’m proud of the efforts of young people, the ways that they perceive ecological issues, and their hopes and ideas for making changes.”

If you want to be inspired by the creativity and ideas of the young minds of York County as well, check out the winners of this year’s Earth Day Recycled Art contest, which are now on display at YCSWA until May 18.

Story contributed by Lizz Dawson for YRK Magazine
Photography courtesy of York County Solid Waste Authority

20 Apr