Launch Slideshow

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2006 Trendsetters

2006 Trendsetters

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    Katie Curry's efforts to encourage others to recycle have made her a local hero. Plus, she gets to sit on her own hard-earned benches when she needs to take a break from bicycling around town with family. Photo: Mary Ann Carter/Black Star

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    Andres Duany

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    John Duncan Jr.

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    Al Gore

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    Interstate Highway System

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    Tim Pawlenty

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    Rich Giani (seated, second from left), water-quality manager at Washington, D.C.'s Water and Sewer Authority, headed a research team that revealed how chloramines affect the leaching of lead into drinking water. Photo: DC WASA

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    Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association president Kathleen Holst is more concerned about road-related issues than she is about her status as the association's first female leader. Photo: IRTBA

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    Bruce Logan is using bacteria in wastewater to create electricity. Photo: Shaoan Cheng

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    Raymond Seed worked without pay to discover why New Orleans's flood control system failed during Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Jenni Spinner

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    At 35, Kris Riemann is the youngest public works director Gulfport, Miss., has had. Thanks to careful planning, the city was the first to restore services after Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Pat Sullivan

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    Diane Linderman asked Congress to allocate homeland security funds directly to public works as well as police and fire agencies. Photo: APWA

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    Joe Haworth (middle) urges public agencies to partner with each other to educate their customers about what they do. “Much of the public wants to help; they just need to be told what to do.” Photo: LACSD

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    Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter

For the complete list, click here.

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Setting the pace for the next generation

Katie Curry, Franklin, Ind.

Curry has taken on an environmental cause that's not necessarily new. What's unique about her efforts to recycle is that she's 9 years old.

Unlike others her age, she doesn't just come home from school, have a snack, and then do her homework. In addition to the typical things a third-grader does, she also writes grants to help pay for community-improvement projects like the recycled-plastic benches that grace the streets of her hometown.

Required to complete a project in the “public eye” in order to receive a state grant, Curry had the usual choices. She could simply toss the plastic bottles she collected, recycle them—or she could take it to the next level.

With support from her parents and grandmother, help collecting 800 pounds of plastic bottles from her schoolmates and neighbors, and a little media attention, Curry launched a full-scale attack on the plastic garbage generated by residents of her home-town. And these efforts paid off. She was awarded a $3200 grant from the Indiana Office of Energy and Defense Development; the Franklin Beautification Committee matched that amount so the town could buy 12 recycled-plastic benches.

As a two-year member of the Beautification Committee, Curry has more goals for her town: trash containers and cigarette urns made from recycled aluminum, for which she plans to apply for another grant nex t year. It will be her 20th such project.

While everyone has different reasons for recycling, Curry's are simple. “I think only about 50% of kids understand the need to recycle,” she says. Her efforts have helped raise awareness in her school about the importance of environmental issues.

But increasing that level of awareness beyond her classmates is the real goal. Curry hopes that “the world won't be a huge landfill” at some point, so she hammers home one point: People of all ages can and should recycle.

Take it from a 9-year-old. We really can make a difference in our communities. — Amara Rozgus