Hoping for more rain isn’t a strategy that Kiera Piper can willingly support.

Water rates are going up in Santa Monica, the state is facing a prolonged drought and people across the country are concerned about sustainability.

So Piper sprang into action, urging members of her community to consider their habits when it comes to consumption of a vital natural resource.

“We all need to use less water,” she wrote in her plea.

And did we mention she’s in third grade?

Piper has made an impact through her involvement in Grades of Green, an environmental education nonprofit that promotes eco-friendly practices in schools.

She was one of three Santa Monica students honored during a Grades of Green symposium May 17 in El Segundo, where children from around the region presented the results of their green-focused projects and received awards from state Assemblyman David Hadley. Also recognized were local students Johanna James and Sydney Seifer.

The nonprofit’s Youth Corps Eco-Leadership program helps students like Piper, James and Seifer become champions of environmental activism at their schools.

Each year, thousands of students in grades 2-12 design and implement initiatives to promote sustainability on their campuses and in their neighborhoods and cities.

“These students are shining in their community as environmental leaders,” Allie Bussjaeger, programs and outreach manager for Grades of Green, said of Santa Monica’s representatives.

Piper hosted a water conservation challenge at Franklin Elementary School.

In January, she spoke to her peers about the challenge and sent them home with a checklist to complete with their families.

The tasks included taking shorter showers, turning the water off while brushing teeth, drinking from a reusable water bottle, spreading the word about rebates for eco-friendly products and fixing leaky faucets, spigots and sprinklers.

Piper collected students’ completed forms, tabulated results and estimated that 50,000 gallons of water were saved as a result of the weeklong initiative. That’s the equivalent of nearly 3,000 showers, according to the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

Seifer, a fourth-grader at Franklin, focused her project on litter and pollution. She became trained as a Heal the Bay beach captain with Grades of Green and attended two beach clean-up events, including one in Santa Monica during Earth Week.

James, a fifth-grader at Roosevelt Elementary School, also trained as a Heal the Bay beach captain with Grades of Green and led two beach clean-up efforts.

Passionate about reducing storm-drain pollution, James created an educational poster on the topic and shared it with other attendees at the Santa Monica beach clean-up.

Urban runoff is a major source of bacteria pollution at local shorelines, according to Heal the Bay.

For more information, visit gradesofgreen.org.

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.

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