Student:

Hayden Dahmm.

School:

Springfield High School, where he is a freshman.

Achievement:

Dahmm, 14, was one of 22 students from across the nation selected to attend the Weather Channel's Forecast Earth Summit earlier this month. The three-day conference in Washington focused on environmental education campaigns, and numerous environmental leaders, scientists and enthusiasts attended.

Since returning to Springfield, Dahmm has tried to make his home and school more green friendly.

Why him:

"First, I had to enter a 200-word essay on why I care about the environment and what I have done to help protect it," Dahmm said. "And I was selected as one of the semifinalists. And so from there, I had to do a telephone interview. And then I learned I was chosen."

Other efforts:

"I have previously done several science projects, where I made a solar cell and a wind turbine and tested them at different times of the day to see at what time of day I could generate the most amount of electricity. And I'm currently working on a project where I'm calculating my household's carbon footprint. I'm trying to reduce that."

Heroic acts:

Hayden Panettiere, a star of the NBC show

Heroes

who tried to disrupt a Japanese dolphin hunt in October, talked at the conference. "Her name ironically is also Hayden. She spoke about whales," Dahmm said.

"We had another speaker on climate change. Another man talked about plastic waste, and how that's affecting sea life. And he made a boat out of plastic bottles. We helped him with it, and he sailed it across the Potomac [River]. And we visited an environmentally friendly school, as well as the [U.S.] Capitol building. And we also made our own public service announcements, which will be aired on The Weather Channel."

Public service announcement prep:

"We each did our own individual ones. So we got to choose what we said, the background and the music. . . . They each gave us these packets on all this information, so that we could know that the information that we were putting into our commercials was factual. And so I was like, I want to do something on my carbon footprint, but I want to make it catchy, a slogan or something."

What he came up with:

"I held up my shoe. 'What's the size of your footprint? I'm not talking about your shoe size?' So I said basically what it was and what you can do to reduce your carbon footprint."

Seeking immediate change:

"When I got back from the trip, I read an article in the newspaper . . . and it talked about how scientists predicted that sea ice might be completely gone from the northern ice cap by the year 2040. But they have just come out with a new prediction saying they think it might all be gone by the year 2012, which is one year after I graduate from high school. So I thought if I'm going to try to do something to help, I better start now."

Going green at home:

"We're using some energy-efficient light bulbs and trimming off lights, and trimming down our heat. But I'm also becoming a vegetarian for the month. Because that's one of the biggest changes that you can make to your daily lifestyle to make an impact. Because you have to process the meat; you have to feed the chickens and cows."

Raising awareness at Springfield High:

"I did actually have an idea for an environment week. I thought maybe near Earth Day [in the spring] where we could do different events that week that encourage environmental awareness. Like a 'Wear a Green Shirt Day,' or we could have a speaker come in, or show a little video."

Benefits:

"A school that has done everything that it can to become environmentally friendly can save about $100,000 a year," Dahmm said, citing a 2006 national study sponsored by the American Federation of Teachers, the American Institute of Architects, the American Lung Association, the Federation of American Scientists and the U.S. Green Building Council.

"And that is the equivalent of hiring two new teachers, buying 200 new computers, or buying 5,000 new textbooks."

Steps at school:

"Some simple things that the school could do are just using environmentally friendly cleaning substances and having little sensors in the room. I know some of the rooms have this . . . where the lights go off with motion sensors.

"And obviously some more, bigger steps that we could take are installing solar cells and having buses run on . . . biodiesel."

When he's not saving the Earth:

"I'm in the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science, and that's why I did the science projects. And I'm in the Future Business Leaders of America."

The future:

"Well, I'm really interested in alternative energies. So I also think that would be a good business, because there's definitely a demand for that," said Dahmm, who also is considering becoming a climatologist.

What a teacher says:

"He's a real go-getter. Goes above and beyond," said JoAnn Kovatch, Dahmm's biology teacher who suggested he enter The Weather Channel contest. "He's always looking to do something else, asking, what else can he do, how else can he improve?"

- Ed Mahon

Student Spotlight

To learn more about the summit or to see Hayden Dahmm's public service announcement, visit

. Click on "Meet the 22 Eco-Ambassadors." Dahmm's profile is the eighth one.