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Trash concerns: Hot Dish encourages young adults to get involved in global issues, St. Mary's students help pick up

READ MORE: Trash concerns: Hot Dish encourages young adults to get involved in global issues, St. Mary's students help pick up
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Researchers have been using the popularity and power of Facebook to get young people involved in the issue of climate change. Students have been taking on a similar challenge locally. A recent survey shows fewer young people are keeping up with the news so researchers and journalists joined forces and used the power of Facebook to help revive journalism and protect our planet. Last month, with a $250,000 grant, they launched a project on Facebook called Hot Dish. It's a contest encouraging 16 to 25 year olds to engage in important issues like global warming. By completing planet-saving challenges both on and offline, participants rack up points. One member earned 500 points creating a video to promote protecting the planet year-round, not just on Earth Day. The incentive, besides helping the planet, is a trip to the Arctic. In six weeks, the project has grown to nearly one thousand members. Students at St. Mary Catholic School have been working on an earth-saving challenge of their own, picking up trash. "It helps the Earth and environment so animals can't die in the ocean,” said second grade student Nick Spetrino. "It helps the Earth, and it helps God, and it really helps everybody in the world so they don't get sick,” said kindergartener Jane Spetrino. Teacher Kevin Murphy put them up to the test. The goal is to see who can collect the most trash by Earth Day and collect more than Mr. Murphy. The top prize is a new surfboard and a week of surf lessons. "My hat goes off to the contestants, it was so close they all collected a ton of trash, they did amazing reports, they ranged from first grade to eighth grade and I was just really impressed at how well they did,” Mr. Murphy said. The winner of the trash challenge is eighth grader Megan Durns from Myrtle Grove Middle School. You can still get involved in the Hot Dish project. The contest runs through May 3rd. Researchers will analyze the data collected from the challenge. They're looking for patterns on what inspires people to share news and get involved in their local community. Results will be released this summer.

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