What started as an idea from a group of college students is officially in "full bloom" at a Cedar Rapids middle School.
The group on the Kirkwood Community College campus is called SIFE or Students for Free Enterprise.
SIFE did an energy audit at McKinley Middle School. They calculated ways the school could save money and be more environmentally friendly. The Kirkwood team took their research to the Sam's Club Environmental Sustainability Competition in Arkansas and won "Third National Champion." The $3,000 in prize money is already measuring up to visual improvements at the school.
"I heard of this challenge and I wanted to participate because I love working with children and I care about the environment. It matters because we're just starting our project, but what we're doing at this school can be done at other schools and other homes," SIFE president Danielle Brazant said.
Ally Owens is in 8th grade at McKinley. The energetic teen wanted to do her part to improve McKinley.
"We don't do a ton, but we do enough to make it significantly different. Earlier today we were cleaning up trash, and right now my environmental club is planting flowers," Owens said.
Kent Vogel manages the Cedar Rapids Sam's Club. He's committed to seeing the project through.
"You take a retail business, you take a college, you take Alliant Energy, you take 500 hundred students in a school and you start talking about changing how we live and how we do things on a daily basis and we start saving energy and recycling and taking care of our community," Vogel said.
It's an idea that's growing one student at a time.
"My kids are gonna be here one day! This neighborhood might not be as pretty as we can make it now. So teaching kids like my brothers, that this is what you should do because it's the way it should be! I think it will stay really beautiful around here," Owens said.