Materials Needed: Students Take Positive Action to Improve the Environment

 Effort Provides Chance to Win Part of $500,000 in Grants and Scholarships

Since 2006, students and teachers have been making a difference in the eco-health of our planet through the Lexus Eco Challenge, a national contest that encourages middle and high school students to develop and implement environmental programs that positively impact their communities. The Seed of Flame project, comprised of a team of 10 students from Mount Madonna School (MMS) will compete in the contest’s 10th year.

The Lexus Eco Challenge, designed by Lexus and Scholastic, is a nationwide education program and contest about the environment that empowers teens to create a better world. The students at Mount Madonna have accepted the challenge by taking a stand and proving that a small group can bring about big changes. After carefully studying the local environment, the seventh grade students have developed an action plan they feel will benefit their local community.

Our action plan is to transform our greenhouse into a forest nursery to restore forests after wildfire, disease, and other human impacts. We will begin a small seed bank in our science classroom. Once established, the forest nursery and seed bank will serve as an ongoing educational resource for our school and greater community. We are also launching a summer program for middle school students to learn about forest ecology, restoration, and impacts of climate change.

The community is invited to support the team’s action plan. First, we will be needing some supplies to help us succeed. It would be wonderful if you could donate any of the following items:

• One used refrigerator, small/med (Energy Star preferred)
• Pots in good used condition
• Potting soil, organic
• Mason jars with lids
• California field guides, plant keys
Also, if anyone has knowledge about wildfires, forest restoration, native plants, seed banks, air quality, or climate change, and would be willing to share their expertise, that would be greatly appreciated!

Lexus and Scholastic will choose 16 winning teams nationwide. Each team will receive a total of $10,000 in grants and scholarships. All winning teams from this challenge and one other challenge will be invited to participate in the Final Challenge for a chance to win one of two grand prizes of $30,000 in grants and scholarships. Eight first-place prizes of $15,000 in grants and scholarships will also be awarded.

To donate or get involved, contact Katrina Leni-Konig.


Nestled among the redwoods on 355 mountaintop acres, Mount Madonna is a safe and nurturing college-preparatory school that supports students in becoming caring, self-aware and articulate critical thinkers, who are prepared to meet challenges with perseverance, creativity and integrity. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville