School Environment Award Essay Contest Winners 2017

As part of the SEA program, there is a short story/essay contest held each year. The students are given an environmentally related theme which their stories or essays should cover. At least one winner is chosen from each grade level at each school that submits entries. The theme this year was “Preserving the Indian River Lagoon”.


The Indian River Lagoon

“Come on Judy!”

“Hold your horses, Dolly, I’m coming!”

“Wow! This is amazing!”

“It is, Dolly, it is.”

“Hay Miss Ruby, why do all the manatees have cuts on their backs?”

“Well Dolly, the cuts are from boats that have a motor with a propeller that hits them in the water.”

“But how come the boats don’t see them?”

“Well, the manatees go slow and sometimes the driver doesn’t have time to stop the motor.”

“Why don’t we make a camera video on this spot so the boat drivers can see the manatees!”

“Dolly, it’s not that easy. But if we try we could be a success!”

“Ok class, let’s give it a try.”

“Well what are we waiting for?”

“Let’s go!”

“Okay, it’s time to test the camera. Where is the boat?”

“Over here.”

“Perfect! Now everyone have their lifejackets on?”


At that moment the camera was videoing a special scene. A boat was moving toward the area and going fast. Vroom!

“Stop! Manatees!” yelled Dolly.

The camera idea really works!

“I have a story to tell mom!” exclaimed Dolly.


Emily, Fairglen Elementary, 4th Grade


Indian River Lagoon

This past fall, I visited the central area of the Indian River Lagoon on a field trip with my 4th grade class. While I was there we were able to get in the water and investigate the wildlife. I think that we should keep the river water clean and we need to keep our environment clean too. I believe that we can keep it clean by picking up trash before it makes it to the waterways. Everyone should remember to keep our world safe and Earth clean. I can’t forget about the animals and they need to be safe in their communities, also.

Cheyenne, Fairglen Elementary, 4th grade



Once a pound a time there was a manatee named Jack who had a friend that happened to be an alligator. His friend the alligator was named Aiden and he was no ordinary alligator because he was a vegetarian. Aiden new from a very young age that he enjoyed no, wait loved eaten vegetables, flowers and anything that was green. Jack and his good friend the alligator did everything together and they were inseparable. Jack and Aiden lived in a great place in Florida and they enjoyed being together in a place where no one bothered them for being friends. Their friendship had a rough start because Aiden and Jack where teased by the other animals due to their friendship. Being friends at their old lagoon meant the ducks would quack by and say alligators and manatees cannot be friends. The older alligators did not agree with heir friendship but Jack thought that they were really upset over Aiden being a vegetarian. The manatees would block Jack from the juicy and delicious plants and when Aiden arrived to join the meal they pretended he was a turtle. Jack and Aiden decided that bullying was not a nice thing to do and they needed to a find a new place to live. Aiden and Jack wanted a new lagoon full of fresh and delicious plants and maybe new friends and neighbors. Jack and Aiden searched and searched tirelessly for a new place to live. Some lagoons where too hot, and others were overcrowded but just when they thought they were going to give up, something happened. Jack came across a lagoon called the Indian River Lagoon and it was amazing. The plants were as green as an emerald, and the animals where very friendly too and even invited Aiden and Jack to game nights. Aiden and Jack where never teased again, and they were happy to have a safe place to live. Like their friendship, the Indian River Lagoon also had a rough start because humans had to step in and remove all of the garbage. The humans worked really hard to make the Indian River Lagoon a safe place to live for all animals.

Arlyne, Quest, 3rd grade


Saving the Indian River Lagoon

Hello my name is Diggy and I am a fiddler crab. I want to tell you a story about my lagoon, and how my friend and I saved it. When I was a young little crabling, I loved playing in the beaches of the Indian River Lagoon. You should have seen the beach, it was glorious. One day me and my friend Sal, the Seagull, saw a fisherman, it was the first time we ever saw a fisherman on our beach. He took my old pal Pescado the fish with him! I knew Pescado shouldn’t have eaten that hot dog on a hook. When the fisherman left, he left behind some of his trash and fishing wire. The next day my neighbor Cangrejo was nowhere to be found. I knew he had moved, because of the garbage in the lagoon. The fisherman must have told all his friends about my glorious beach! Each day more fisherman showed up. The Lagoon was getting more and more dirty as the people left behind their trash. Trash was floating at the top of the river, and it was getting harder to see the surface. In no time my beach became a very popular fishing spot, which led to more trash being left behind. One time there was a plastic bottle at the bottom of the river. My other buddy Loco wanted to be funny, and crawled into it then floated away. Four weeks after the first fisherman came, it was only me and Sal who hadn’t moved away. The Lagoon kept getting worse, but I still had hope. After a few moths Sal and I knew the trash wasn’t going to disappear on its own, so we made a plan. Sal set off to bring back as many fish as he could. The next day they all played dead. All three hundred and one of them. The fisherman were so surprised. They called a marine rescue team, and they got to work picking up all the trash, and untangling the fishing wire stuck in the rocks. I was so happy to see this. When I went to bed, there was loud noises all around. The sound of talking fish, and crabs. I walked out, and to my surprise, all two hundred and thirty five crabs and fish were here! My beach was once again the most glorious of them all. Together, we made the greatest sand castle in all the Lagoon, and Sal and I ruled it. Everyone lived in the castle, even Loco, who Sal found still floating in the river. So next time you’re enjoying the beautiful lagoons remember that you’re sea friends live here and we want to keep our home clean. The end.

Zara, Audubon, 6th grade


The Lagoon

Life is hard being a turtle. Not knowing if you would be attacked or left behind. But the worst thing is not knowing if you’re going to make it when people attack. This is my story from the beginning. My name is Pop. I’m a turtle. I live at the Indian River Lagoon. It’s awesome there except one thing at three o’ clock. People come for us turtles with things that look like jellyfish but tied together they call them nets. When the two legged people (that is what we call the humans) come they only get one of the turtles. My best friend Pepey and my mom Tuna are good at surviving so I think will be fine. I love my life here at the lagoon. “Mom, can me and Pepey go to the park today?” I told her. She told me no because it was almost three o’ clock. But I really wanted to go so I told Pepey that she said yes. We stayed there until three thirty not knowing what time we stayed. Until everything got silent then I heard mother scream. She was there in front of me saying the nets! I did not hear her then suddenly a net came. She pushed me out of the way. Then I saw her get taken by the nets. “Pop are you ok?” Pepey asked me, no it is my fault if I wouldn’t have disobeyed her while I was talking this weird turtle stopped our conversation and told me about a way to get my mom back. He told us about a beaver that knows how to find my mom. As soon as he told us about that we left to go there. We followed the directions perfectly then came upon their weird house this is apparently a dam. We looked for a door but we couldn’t find anything. “What is that?” Pepey said.  She lifted it up then something sprung up. “Hello, there!” it said. “I’ve heard you’ve been looking for me.” “Are you, Robbie?” I asked. “Yes indeed, I am,” he told me. We told him all about our problems. He told how to save my mom, and even said there is a place where turtles live that is very safe. It was a difficult task saving my mom; we had to go through tubes, pipes and tanks. But it was all worth it to see her smile. We met some people there like a crab that’s name was Wako. We even saved some more turtles. The place that Robbie mentioned is awesome. There are no people there and it is a place only for turtles. It’s also the place I proposed to Pepey. Hey, don’t spoil it! She said “yes”, and let’s just say this is a fairy book life.

Kiara, Audubon Elementary, 6th grade


Preserving the Indian River Lagoon

The Indian River Lagoon has become very polluted the last few decades. In my lifetime I have seen major fish kills. Me and my dad went down to the Banana River a couple months ago and there were thousands of dead fish floating. The pollution is created by humans through storm water runoff, septic tanks leaking, and runoff from farms. In the early 1900s the lagoon was packed with oyster beds. Overfishing and pollution has caused the oysters to disappear. There has been work done to replace the oyster beds and they are starting to come back. Oysters are very good for the environment. Each oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. They kill viruses, bacteria, and algae. The recent fish kills have been caused by brown tide. Unreasonably hot temperatures have helped the algae spread. Brow tides are caused by the pelagophyte Aureoumbra lagunensis. The algae takes the oxygen out of the water, which causes fish to die. This year’s fish kill is one of the largest on record. Scientists have found more than 15 kinds of fish that have been killed. The state Government is not doing much to help. Fertilizers that people use to make their grass green is one of the major causes. The farmers also use fertilizers and they are now allowed to self-inspect. This means there is nobody checking to make sure they are doing it right and following the rules not to spread pollution. Hopefully people will realize one day that having fish is more important than your grass being green. In 2014 the Brevard County Commission passed a rule banning the use of fertilizers during the rainy season from June 1st through September 30th, but you can still go to the store and buy it. I’ve read that one kind of fish becoming extinct can cause many others to do the same. There are groups that are working to help the lagoon get clean again and I really hope they will succeed. I think there needs to be more done by the government to make sure people follow the rules. Before the fish kill, I never even though about the pollution in the water. I would like to start a group with my friends and family to help clean up the lagoon. We could have trash pickups and pass out flyer letting people know that their fertilizers are killing the fish. I think if more people were told, they might stop doing it. Saving out Lagoon should be something you hear every day. I don’t think people know how serious this could be. My Aunt Kathu told me when she first moved her in the 60s the water was blue and you could see through it. Now it looks brown. I hope that one day I’ll be able to help the lagoon become clean again and full of fish.

Jason, Audubon Elementary, 4th grade



Aquaman looked out on the Indian River Lagoon in disgust. After being chased by millions of robot sharks made by Gizmo, the leader of the H.I.V.E., he was tipped off by a fish to go to the Indian River Lagoon. It told him that since the water there was not the water that Gizmo’s robot sharks work in (Gizmo’s sharks only work in salt water, not brackish water), he should go there. Aquaman had heard rumors about the Indian River Lagoon. They were all based solely on the fact that the water was full of trash; the water was dirty, etc.…. Though, Aquaman thought that they were exaggerated and besides, it wasn’t like he couldn’t just stay afloat on top of the water. Still, he was slightly reluctant to go there anyhow. But he would rather go there instead of getting incinerated by millions of robot sharks, though. After looking back at the increasing number of sharks behind him, he thanked the fish and quickly swam away, towards the lagoon. When he had arrived at the entrance the sharks transmitted Gizmo’s angry words and swam away. He snaked past the entrance without being seen and arrived at the shore. “I guess the rumor wasn’t exaggerated”, he said. The water was keeping afloat some soda bottles, machine parts, and was brownish, like there was some other type of liquid other than water in it. He suspected motor oil. “I guess it would look better without the trash and the oil”, he thought out loud. Then, he decided to find the source before picking anything up, because what’s the point of cleaning things up when it just going to come back. After a half an hour of searching he found a pipe with trash coming out, afloat on oil. Aqua man did a victory dance in his head and swam up the pipe. It did not take Aquaman long to swim through the pipe, mainly because e didn’t want to accidently swallow some oil. When he had gone through the whole pipe, he emerged and saw a manufacturing plant. There were hundreds of conveyor belts with things like robotic metal shark fins, teeth, and heads. The pipe up, which he came, was connected to other smaller pipes labeled: Defective parts, Expired/Unused oil, and Gizmo’s trash disposal. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what to do. Aquaman took a piece of metal from a conveyor belt and broke each conveyor belt and pipe. Then, he broke the 3 pipes leading out to the Indian River Lagoon. Fortunately, the oil pipe was above a large fireplace (the H.I.V.E. isn’t good at science, or anything in fact, so they didn’t know that oil fuels fire). Soon enough, the whole manufacturing plant was in flames. By that times though, Aquaman was already gone. When he came out of the pipe, he called his evil fighting companions, the Teen Titans to head to the Indian River Lagoon. They arrived within minutes. Robin and Starfire were responsible for disintegrating trash, Beast Boy and Raven for getting the oil out of the lagoon, and Cyborg for disassembling the machine parts. Within an hour, the 6 had taken out all the trash, oil, and machine parts out of the lagoon. The he asked the Teen Titans for one more favor. They agreed. 10 minutes later, they had arrived at the H.I.V.E’s headquarters. They sneaked inside, into the robot shark control room they went. Gizmo was sitting in a chair fast asleep. Raven said, “Asarath, Mestrion, Sindos!” and Gizmo was transported out of the HQ into the mass of robot sharks. Then, Aquaman hit a button that says: Self-Destruct all fully manufactured robot sharks (or SDAFMRS if you want an acronym). After that, the 6 of them looked out the window and saw lots of bubbles rising to the surface and some pop out and becoming fireworks. They said, “I’ll get you need time Aquaman!” After sneaking out of the HQ and heading back to the Teen Titan’s tower for a delicious dinner, Aquaman thanked the Teen Titans for their help and said to ask him for help if they needed it. Then he headed home, only to find out that it had been blown up by the exploding robot sharks. It looked like Aquaman was going to be busy for a little while…

Jacob, Westside Elementary, 5th grade


Stop Littering the Indian River Lagoon

Hello, I am Mustapha and I am writing to you, because you lazy people just throw trash in the Indian River Lagoon like its nothing but a trash can! Come on guys don’t be like animals throwing trash all over the place, we can have an alien invasion, because of trash all over the lagoon and whose fault if that… YOURS, because of your carelessness we might have the biggest alien invasion in the history of the WHOLE GALAXY, and if that happens I know why and you will lean your lesson the hard way. You don’t want that to happen right… Because if you care AT ALL you will stop littering the lagoon and keep it healthy, people want to go to the lagoon and have fun, not experience litter all over the place. I am telling you from now litter might even cause human EXTINCTION. Ok, so I was just joking about the alien invasion but here is what is real, scientists have found deadly bacteria in the Indian River Lagoon causing diseases which could be fatal. All the businesses around the lagoon get most of their income from tourists who come to enjoy the lagoon and its many attractions. People will start losing income, because tourists don’t want to see a polluted lagoon. The restaurants will lose people, because maybe fish they catch is from the lagoon which is polluted. Recently, there was a huge pollution in the lagoon which caused many fish to die. It was awful, thousands and thousands of dead fish were all over the place and the smell was horrible. Some people who lived near the lagoon had to leave their houses because of how bad the air smelled. Some people even had to go to the hospital because they felt very sick breathing the air coming from the lagoon. Now, I know no one wants that so please keep Brevard and the world beautiful. It is your responsibility as adults to keep the lagoon clean, healthy, and safe for us kids to enjoy it and appreciate it like you have. Soon it will be our turn to make sure the lagoon is healthy, clean, and safe for our children to enjoy and appreciate what we are enjoying today. You see, this is a shared responsibility where each generation should make sure that the next generation will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and abundance of our beautiful and one-of-a-kind lagoon. Remember this letter and please do something about this Indian River Lagoon, people are getting diseases and dying from the pollution. Well, I hope you do something to stop the pollution of the Indian River Lagoon before it is too late.

Mustapha, Westside Elementary, 5th grade


Protect the Indian River Lagoon!

Have you heard of the Indian River Lagoon? It’s a natural part of Florida, but has currently been going through tough times. Lately, the water has dealt with a toxic algae bloom, which has harmed marine life and killed off their food sources. One of the important thing that were harmed in the algae bloom is sea grass. Sea grass is one of the main food sources of a once endangered animal called the Manatee. Manatees were very recently moved from the endangered species list, and losing their food source would sadly put them back on the list again. Next, there are ordinary marine life. After the algae bloom, thousands of dead fish had washed up on the shores of the Indian River Lagoon! The few dead fish that were consumed by any form of animal must have gotten very sick. And finally, the Mangrove trees. Mangroves are an endangered species of tree that only grows in swampy area of Florida. Less than 1200 specimens remain alive today. They are also what holds the lagoon together, literally! Their roots hold the swampy and sandy soils of the lagoon together. Without them, the lagoon would practically disintegrate! I think that we should preserve the Indian River Lagoon for generations to come because it is home to many unique marine animals that may someday hold the key to many things, like medicines! The Indian River Lagoon is an ecosystem that should be protected. It is home to many unique and rare animals and plants that need its special environment to flourish and grow. Protect the Indian River Lagoon!

Da-Keliah, Westside Elementary, 5th grade


Majestic the Indian River Lagoon Hero

Chapter one- All about Majestic and her family

Once there was a dolphin who loved her family very much. Her name was Majestic, she lived in the water of the Indian River Lagoon. She had a mom named Sara, a dad named Tom. Also, she had three brothers their names were George, Bob, and Jacob last but, not least two sisters and their names were Lily and Lindsey (who were twins by the way). She loved them so much! She was now 17.

Chapter two- Her Neighbor

She has some neighbors but, the ones she knew were her favorite. “My favorite next door neighbor is a dad named Bobby, he has a daughter whose name is Madie. He has a girlfriend whose name is Maria, she has three daughters who are named Kennedie, Korie, and Kelsey. Bobby is nice, so is Maria and Madie. Although I have never met Kennedie, Kelsey or Korie. I bet they are really nice” Majestic said.

Chapter three- How she is a hero and how she saved a fish

Majestic and her family could transform themselves into humans whenever they wanted to, if they had their magic sea shells. Their reason for transforming into humans was to collect trash off of the shore, to save other marine animals lives. The reason for this was once when she was 10 years old she saw a fish who had a piece of plastic stuck in his gills. So she had went off to find her dad. When she came back with her dad, the poor fish was lying on the floor. I heard him ask a couple people to help but, nobody was nice enough to help him. When he saw her he asked “could you please help me? I got caught in this thing while I was swimming and I can’t get it off.” Majestic said “I already got help”. She told her dad to hold onto the fish’s tail, while she pulled the plastic off his gills. When she finally got the plastic off of his gills, she made a club called “Save the Fish”. After that day she was so very helpful to all of the fish that she was now ta very lovely and kind hero. From that day forward she dedicated her life to the fish.

Lundynn, Westside, 5th grade


The Fight of the Indian River

One day there was a boy named Oscar. He was a skinny boy who loved the Indian River Lagoon. In fact, every day after school, he would go there. He was a nice boy who never bullied or even argued with anyone. One evening, he went to the Indian River, but he noticed something different. The river was green and a giant wad of trash was coming to shore. Oscar was devastated. Then, he saw a few people in the distance; they were throwing trash into the water. Oscar ran closer, to see what was happening. Just then, he was suddenly knocked out. When he woke up, he head hurt. He was also on the ground. He heard familiar voices- it was Fletch and Quinn. Now, Fletch was opposite of Oscar, except he was also skinny and not that strong. Fletch was talking to Quinn. (Most people called him “Quinn-Mc-Crazy” because he was strong and also on Fletch’s side.) Oscar, not yet strong at all, gave a small yank on Fletch’s arm, which made Fletch fall to the ground. Oscar made a run for it. He ran and ran, until he fell on trash and hurt his leg. Fletch was approaching quickly, so Oscar got up and threw a rock that hit Fletch, bounced and hit Quinn. “Two in a row” Oscar said. Then, he went to see who was hurting the Indian River Lagoon. As more trash piled up, Oscar got angrier and angrier. Then, he got through all the trash and talked to the people who were throwing the trash. After a long talk with the people who were littering, they stopped. How would Oscar clean up all the trash and stop it from being thrown into the river? Later at school, he organized a plan where his friends could help him on Monday. They would all go to the Indian River Lagoon and they would make a group for stopping people from throwing more trash, as well as a group for cleaning it up. The worst part is that they’d have to make patrols for Saturday and Sunday because Fletch was figuring out their problem. Fletch was planning on throwing trash into the water. On Saturday morning, Oscar and his best friend Max were checking for Fletch and Quinn. Then, they found them sneaking over to the Lagoon, and Max stopped them. On Sunday, they also look out for the two of them, but this time, Quinn brought a rock and Fletch brought a broom. Max, being stronger than Quinn, Fletch and Oscar, gave a huge punch and took the trash out of Fletch’s pockets. Then, Monday came, and they all met at the Lagoon and were ready for a long, wet, hot, messy, sunny day.

Mason, Audubon Elementary, 4th grade