Three Preston High students were recognized Dec. 20, by the Idaho Department of Environment Quality for their winning posters in the 2019 Utah Clean Air Poster contest. Natalya Borup, Peri Swainston and Mya Eubanks each received $50 gift certificates as finalists in the competition and are eligible to win $100 to $200 cash prizes because their posters qualify to be judged in the Utah state contest. 

Roslynn Brain McCann and Ed Stafford, professors at Utah State University, developed the Clean Air Poster Contest five years ago.

Stafford spoke to PHS science, art and business classes about the air pollution problem in Cache Valley, as well as how to reach the public through media. Students were then assigned to create posters to make a change in people’s behavior’s as it relates to air quality. Once they were graded, they were submitted to the program for judging.  

Borup created the “Use Your Brain and Trip Chain” poster, Swainston created the “Can we keep each other Company and Carpool?” poster, and Mya Eubanks created the “Don’t Harm Our Earth, Turn Your Key” poster.

The three girls are invited to the formal presentation announcing the overall winning poster on Feb. 9, at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art at the USU campus at noon.  The Museum will hold a “Family Art Day” where young children will be able to make their own clean air posters with the help of artists in the community. 

Winning posters are displayed throughout the community in businesses, schools and government agencies to educate the public on the effects of air pollution in the Cache Valley. 

“When I go in and talk about the science of air quality, it’s often the first time students have heard that Utah has some of the worst air quality in the nation,” Stafford has said. “They don’t know that during winter inversions a layer of warm air traps cold air and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers, or PM2.5, in the valleys. Or that PM2.5 comes from vehicles, industry and home emissions and ammonia from animal agriculture. They don’t know they can improve air quality by running several errands in one car trip, carpooling or not idling.”

McCann said the lack of awareness can be alarming. “Students are not making the association that when their throats hurt or they’re coughing it might be because of high air pollution levels,” she told Christie Giles of Zion’s Bank. “Seeing them make that connection is incredible. The issue suddenly goes from invisible to visible in their minds.”