The Rapidian

Grand Rapids student stars in new PSA with Stormwater Project Engineer

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The City of Grand Rapids is partnering with Groundswell to promote the 7th annual Student Showcase.


Groundswell Student Showcase

Wednesday May 18, 2016 6 pm

Celebration! Cinema North

2121 Celebration Drive NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49525



City of Grand Rapids Environmental Services Department


Become a Basin Buddy

Zoey Neistat and Michael Staal getting prepped by GRTV staff for their PSA.

Zoey Neistat and Michael Staal getting prepped by GRTV staff for their PSA. /City of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Environmental Services Department (ESD) is partnering with Grand Rapids Public Schools, the Groundswell environmental education network and other local organizations to promote the 7th annual Groundswell Student Showcase from 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18 at Celebration! Cinema North, 2121 Celebration Drive NE in Grand Rapids.

Groundswell is an environmental education initiative housed in the College of Education at Grand Valley State University. More than 3,500 local students from 30 local schools are participating in Groundswell during the 2015–2016 academic year, including Grand Rapids Public Schools students enrolled at CA Frost Environmental Science Academy, City High/Middle School, Grand Rapids Montessori, Grand Rapids Public Museum School, North Park Montessori, Innovation Central High (through Upward Bound TRIO) and Union High (through Upward Bound TRIO).

Among the students engaging in Groundswell’s hands-on environmental learning activities is Zoey Neistat, a sixth-grader at Grand Rapids Public Museum School who recently recorded a TV Public Service Announcement (PSA) in the GRTV’s local public access studio with ESD Stormwater Project Engineer Mike Staal.

“Zoey is a leader in the classroom and in the community, and the ESD was delighted to have her serve as a champion to help promote the Groundswell Student Showcase,” Staal said. “Our GRTV PSA provides a valuable opportunity for Grand Rapids students to learn about natural environment systems, language arts, visual design, storytelling, local government, and community engagement.”

The ad is airing daily on GRTV Channel 25 through May 13. 

One of the Groundswell Student Showcase highlights that will be announced during the May 18 ceremony is the winners of the “Be a Basin Buddy” Student Video Contest sponsored by the ESD. This contest is open to all students in grades 6-12 attending any school located within the City of Grand Rapids. Students can submit videos any time through May 13, 2016. 

The content guidelines and official rules for the “Be a Basin Buddy” Student Video Contest are at

“The goal of the contest is to offer Grand Rapids students a way to engage in hands-on environmental learning about efforts to protect the Grand River Watershed and the Great Lakes,” said Grand Rapids Environmental Services Department Manager Mike Lunn. “Students will enhance their knowledge and have the opportunity to educate their communities about protecting our water resources.”

The top prize is an Apple iPad Air 2 for the classroom of the winning video that has an actual retail value (“ARV”) of $599 or less and is being donated by the civil engineering and construction consulting firm of Fishbeck Thompson Carr & Huber in Grand Rapids.

In addition, the 2nd- and 3rd-place students’ runner up classrooms will receive two state-of-the-art restored laptops courtesy of Comprenew, the Grand Rapids computer recycler that holds the highest certification level for electronics recycling and data security in the country.

“We thank these outstanding local businesses for their commitment to promoting student environmental stewardship in the classroom and in our communities,” Lunn said. 

The videos will inform audiences and help promote the city’s volunteer “Basin Buddy” campaign to keep sewer grates on city streets free of debris, leaves, snow and ice to help prevent flooding, according to Carrie Rivette, the city’s wastewater/stormwater maintenance superintendent. The campaign also educates the community that storm drains flow directly to the river, carrying pollutants from city streets, sidewalks, roofs, and any other surfaces the rain touches, Rivette added.

The Environmental Services Department, GVSU College of Education staff, and Groundswell representatives will select a panel of judges who will determine the four winning entries. The judges will decide the winner utilizing the following criteria and assigned weighting: originality of the entry – the most unique, inspirational or funniest (30%); creativity of the entry – the most creative way of expressing the theme (30%); relevance to the theme – adherence to the theme of why the Basin Buddies program is important to the community (30%); and, quality of the entry and compliance with the official rules (10%).

Groundswell is a coalition of community organizations and local schools creating environmental learning opportunities for K-12 students. The initiative is funded through the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, the Baldwin Foundation, and the Wege Foundation.

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