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  • Keep RC Beautiful Staff

Keep RC Beautiful Green Scholarship Awarded to Two Graduating Seniors

Graduating Seniors Amelia Harris, ERHS and Maija Zidek, LLCA Awarded $1200 and $500 Scholarships

Rutherford County, NC - May 12, 2023: Keep Rutherford County Beautiful (KRCB), local environmental and beautification nonprofit organization and affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, awards their Green Scholarship annually to two graduating Rutherford County seniors. This year’s recipients include Amelia Harris from East Rutherford High School, and Maija Zidek from Lake Lure Classical Academy.

The 2023 Green Scholarship is awarded to graduating seniors pursuing a ‘green’ or eco-oriented undergraduate degree; both 2 and 4 year programs qualify. Students pursuing fields such as sustainable agriculture, marine sciences, renewable energy, environmental science, architecture, engineering, health services and law, wildlife ecology, horticulture and more are encouraged to apply annually.

The demand for environmental sustainability professionals is growing. More corporations are implementing sustainability measures to provide a positive impact on their communities, as well as improve both profits and their reputations. High-paying, long-term “green-collar” jobs are being created daily. KRCB recognizes the barriers graduates face affording post-secondary education. The Green Scholarship was created to assist the future environmentally-oriented workforce to receive quality education.

In addition to pursuing an eco-oriented degree, applicants must complete at least 20 hours of community service with KRCB or similar organizations, submit an essay and a recommendation letter, and maintain a GPA of at least 3.0. Throughout the year, KRCB offers students opportunities to volunteer and obtain their community service hours. Students are encouraged to pick up litter individually, as a part of the annual fall Trash Bowl (now referred to as the “Litter Bowl”) competition between Rutherford County high schools, or to participate in the Spring Litter Sweep. Students are also encouraged to partake in beautification projects, such as the life-size upcycled chess game that was installed in Kiwanis Park, Rutherfordton, throughout April for Earth Month.

Amelia Harris from East Rutherford High School was the recipient of the $1,200 Green Scholarship. Amelia will be attending North Carolina State University in the Fall of 2023 to study Environmental Science. Throughout high school, Amelia was a member of National Technical Honor Society, National Honor Society, Beta, Student Government Association and Cavalier Crazies. She is currently student body president and yearbook editor. She has completed extensive community service, plays soccer and works at Washburn’s General Store.

“It’s a huge honor to even be considered for the KRCB Green Scholarship!” said Amelia. “Receiving this award will allow me many opportunities that I can use to pay it forward to my community.” A trip to Haiti enlightened Amelia to the magnitude of man-made waste buildup and its effects on the environment, and this inspired her to want to make a difference. She took charge locally this past year, working with nonprofits, alumni, and the ERHS Student Government Association to organize a formal dress and suit drive for proms to decrease the amount of clothing waste while also saving students’ money. After college, Amelia wants to return to Rutherford County and “help the people around me find nontraditional ways to sustain the environment that we do have, and look for the beauty that is already here!”

The $500 Green Scholarship was awarded to Maija Elina Zidek from Lake Lure Classical Academy. Maija will be attending the University of Miami to study Marine Biology and Ecology. Maija is both National Honor Society President and Science Olympiad President as well as a varsity soccer player. Throughout high school, she participated in Action for Climate Emergency Lake Lure, KRCB’s Trash Bowl, Trash Cleanup in the Florida Keys, became SCUBA diving certified, and participated in other community service projects. After attending SeaCamp in the Florida Keys, she saw firsthand the results of climate change. Maija said that she felt “a feeling of urgency to do something to stop the degradation of the beauty around me, and a desperation to make it better.”

The Green Scholarship would not have been possible without the financial contributions of Andrew Tisdale, Financial Advisor for Carolina Wealth Management; Dr. Brock Hefflin; and Befesa Zinc Metal. The KRCB Green Scholarship Selection Committee carefully selected the recipients from a competitive pool of applicants. The Selection Committee consisted of Don Cason, Executive Director, RC Tourism Development Authority and Keep Rutherford County Beautiful Chair; Taylor Hardin, RC Tourism Development Authority Marketing, Administrative and Project Coordinator and Keep Rutherford County Beautiful Secretary/Treasurer; Andrew Tisdale; Dr. Brock Hefflin; Dr. Janet Mason, Town Manager, Town of Forest City; and William White, Environmental Compliance Manager, Befesa Zinc Metal.

“I am again humbled by our selection committee members and their support as well as the quality of candidates this scholarship attracts,” said Jenna Bailey, Executive Director of KRCB. “It is evident that our county values our mission at KRCB and supports the belief that change will come from our next generation. It is so important to be an example and lift those individuals up that are creating change.” KRCB is grateful for the support they have received. “This work isn't done in isolation,” continues Jenna. “It is accomplished by all of us – the local government, businesses, civic groups, nonprofits and individual citizens – working together.”

Keep Rutherford County Beautiful began as an Earth Day litter pickup in 2016 and has transformed into a movement throughout Rutherford County, North Carolina. Neighbors, industry leaders, business owners, school systems and municipalities have joined forces to change the way we define community. Now an affiliate of Keep America Beautiful, KRCB leads multiple green programs and initiatives including litter sweeps, their annual Green Scholarship, and their Green Business Program. Together, we are taking action to love where we live, work and play.

To keep up-to-date with KRCB events and volunteer opportunities, head to the KRCB Facebook page @KeepRCNCBeautiful, IG page @keeprcncbeautiful, or email @keeprcncbeautiful. Learn more about KRCB’s green initiatives on

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