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Maryville student saves the bees, awarded Earth Day scholarship
May 8, 2022

lauren huffstetler
Lauren Huffstetler

MARYVILLE -- Lauren Huffstetler, a young student leader from Maryville, was recently awarded the NSHSS Foundation Earth Day Scholarship by the National Society of High School Scholars Foundation (NSHSS Foundation). This scholarship recognizes students who are passionate about the environment and who have helped to either raise awareness or actively protect our earth through projects or activities in their schools and communities. Lauren was one of 10 students to each be awarded with a $500 scholarship for her environmental activism.

For the past two years, Lauren has been working to restore pollinator habitats in her community through her project, Pollinate Our Planet. She started by purchasing native, non-GMO wildflower seeds in bulk that she packaged and distributed to her community for free. She then handed out seeds at the local recycling coalition’s 2020 Earth Day event. Since then, she’s handed out 700+ packets.

To get pollinator gardens started in public spaces, Lauren challenged local schools, civic organizations, and garden clubs to start their own gardens. She provided the wildflower seeds and other resources they needed. So far, the local Lions Club, Rotary Club, garden club, Master Gardeners, beekeeping association, and four schools have accepted the challenge. She also collaborated with Maryville College to establish a pollinator garden on campus. Through this collaboration, she installed a waterproof box on the garden gate, which she keeps stocked with free seeds and planting brochures. Alongside her work to restore habitats, she’s also working to educate her community about lesser-known pollinators and the important role each plays in pollinating gardens and securing food supply. Recognizing that people are often afraid of pollinators, like bats, and are inclined to squish others, like ants, she created a website,, and an Instagram account, @PollinateOurPlanet, where she shares coloring pages, printable garden signs, and other educational resources.

While Lauren has put in 200+ hours of work on Pollinate Our Planet and has received a Girl Scout Gold Award for it, she has no intention of slowing down with plans to continue the project in college. In April, she will be handing out free seeds at her third Earth Day event. She is currently working with the public library and local Girl Scout camp to start two more pollinator gardens in Maryville.

To give you some background on the organization that awarded Lauren the scholarship, The NSHSS Foundation fosters the growth of graduates enrolled in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), business, economics, public policy, and environmental science and sustainability fields. Through special programs, including the NSHSS Honor Society, the NSHSS Foundation connects young scholars with additional opportunities to advance their education, personal growth, and career interests. For more information, please visit

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