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Former FHS student Brazil-bound

A former Farragut High School student has been selected to study conservation in the United States and Brazil through an environmental leadership program developed by Nissan North America and World Wildlife Fund.

As a winner of the Nissan-WWF Environmental Leadership Award, Erin Byers will receive a $5,000 cash prize and will participate in an Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. and Nashville, and a research expedition in Brazil.

“I am thrilled to be a part of this program,” said Byers. “I think it will provide great leadership development and an insight into environmental business, which I will use in the future.”

Byers is a junior at The University of Tennessee studying biosystems engineering. For the past two years, she has been the scribe for the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, and helped run her department’s booth for Engin-eers Day. She has organized several volunteer projects for the Knoxville Arboretum and the local Ronald McDonald House and in an upcoming trip she is organizing to Guatemala, Byers will work with Engineers Without Borders to design and implement rooftop rainwater collectors.

After graduating, she aims to help create sustainable cities by working at non-profit organizations and eventually hopes to study urban and land use planning.

"This is an opportunity for students to experience many different sides of conservation, from on-the-ground field work to policy-making to corporate environmental stewardship," said Dominique Thormann, NNA senior vice-president of finance and administration. "We are proud to support W-W-F's conservation work for the second year, and to hopefully inspire a new, diverse group of future environmental leaders."

Byers will be invited to attend an Environmental Leadership Summit in Washington and Nashville, June 18-23. The first part of the Summit will take place in the nation's capital, where students will learn about conservation and environmental policymaking. She will visit institutions such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the World Bank and Capitol Hill, and participate in personal development seminars and cross-cultural training activities to help prepare her for leadership roles in the global community.

In Nashville, Byers will participate in volunteer activities, learn about clean technology and tour a Nissan manufacturing facility. She will also learn about Nissan’s Green Program 2010, which focuses on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, minimizing exhaust emissions and accelerating recycling efforts.

Byers will take a two-week field trip to Brazil in August, where she will work side-by-side with local conservation scientists, explore the Amazon rainforest by boat and participate in local cultural activities. Carbon emissions from all program air travel will be offset by investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

"Last year, students commented on the enormous impact this program had on their personal and professional lives. For many, it was instrumental in shaping their understanding and awareness of environmental issues," said Shaun Martin, WWF director of conservation leadership programs. "We’re pleased the program will continue this year and are eager to be the vehicle for a new group of talented youth to learn about these important issues. We’re confident Erin will make real contributions to conservation in the future.”


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