Congratulations to our 2019 Student Scholarship Recipients! 

Rohith Moolakatt – Northgate High School

Rohith first became involved in environmental issues as a seventh grader when became concerned about the California drought. After his sophomore year at Northgate High School he attended a program to study climate change and marine science in UC San Diego for a summer and decided to devote his efforts to environmental protection.

As a junior, he took AP Environmental Science and co-founded the Northgate Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA). NEPA has rejuvenated the recycling and composting program at Northgate, promoted reusable water bottles and the new water filling stations, and hosted beach clean ups with the Surfrider Foundation. Rohith and his Northgate EPA team set up and maintain three stream stations throughout their campus. This was a significant success on multiple fronts that included a drastic reduction to a rodent issue that the custodial team had been dealing with and the end results of creating an effective sorting program for their campus that they are continuing to improve upon.

To sustain these efforts after graduation, NEPA has recruited a leadership team of juniors and sophomores. NEPA has also established a relationship with the environmental clubs of Foothill Middle School and Walnut Acres so that students that enter Northgate will have a strong background in recycling and composting and other environmental initiatives.

This spring, NEPA hosted a showing of the movie, Straws for the Northgate, Foothill and Walnut Acres Elementary community that was a full house of extended families and students. Each school gave presentations on the larger issues with providing immediate call to actions that attendees to consider.

Rohith’s video shows the progress has been made in reducing waste at Northgate.

Rohith lives in Walnut Creek and will be studying Environmental Science at the University of California, Berkeley.


Ava MacKay – Acalanes High School

Ava joined the Environmental Board of the Leadership Program at Acalanes High School at the end of her sophomore year and served as the head of the Board as a senior.

The goal of the Environmental Board is to educate students on how to reduce their waste and how to become eco-friendlier on and off campus. To educate students, faculty and staff about proper sorting of recyclable and compostable materials, the Environmental Board provided guidelines to students and made presentations to all of the staff at the school and to the school’s governing board.

Ava also supported the AP Environmental Science class to create a bin monitoring program, where students sign up to work a shift at lunch that helps fellow students place their materials in the correct bins. The Environmental Board has helped to make other changes on campus, switching from ketchup packets to ketchup pumps and from styrofoam cups to compostable paper cups in the cafeteria.

With their involvement, the stations have been kept as three stream stations with keeping the bins together so they do not migrate around campus that is often a problem on high school campuses. Ava and her team have kept waste reduction and sorting as a focus for their administration to support. Through these and other efforts the diversion rate at Acalanes has increased from 40% in 2018 to 54% this school year.

Ava’s video “Acalanes Goes Green” illustrates the sorting procedures at Acalanes.

Ava lives in Lafayette and will be studying Communications at California State University, Chico.


Emily Tamkin – Campolindo High School

Emily joined the Environmental Club as a freshman and helped to transform the recycling and composting program at Campolindo from “a sea of black trash cans” to a fully integrated three-bin system. The new system was implemented in 2017 and gradually, students, faculty and staff have developed the “muscle memory” of sorting the trash instead of dumping it all.

The key to success at Campolindo is a sustained effort passing the leadership torch from graduating seniors to incoming freshmen and sophomores.

Emily and her team have had some challenges over the school year, but have been maintaining their three bins sorting station system on campus and keeping it as a focus of interest for their administration to support. Through these efforts, the diversion rate at Campolindo has gradually increased from 31% in 2017 to 48% this school year.

For Emily’s video, the Environmental Club recruited teachers to spread the word about the recycling and composting program at Campolindo.

Emily lives in Lafayette and will be studying Biology at Bates College.

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