Cole Rasenberger was named one of 10 national Kohls Cares Scholarship winners -- worth $10,000 -- for his continuing efforts to promote environmentally friendly practices by large corporations. Kohls will also donate $1,000 to a nonprofit organization of his choice.
An 11-year-old rising sixth grader at Lake Norman Charter School in Davidson, Cole says he learned in second grade that thousands of acres of N.C. forests are destroyed daily by mills that make packaging paper for fast-food restaurants. He wanted to help save the habitats of endangered animal and plant species there, so in 2009 he began making postcards with drawings of animal habitats and sending them to national fast-food restaurants in hopes of encouraging them to use post-consumer recycled fibers in their paper products instead.
Cole and 25 kids went around their school to gather kids signatures on the postcards and sent them to McDonalds -- which, a year later, changed its bags to 100 percent recyclable fibers, says his mother. Over the next year, Cole worked to organize six additional schools -- delegating captains from each -- and collected 6,000 postcards. Last year, he hand-delivered these postcards to another fast-food chains headquarters and met with its executives.
Ive learned so much from my son, said Coles mother, Kerry Rasenberger, also crediting Mountain Island Elementary second-grade teacher Pamela Beard. Coles teacher gave an assignment where the kids had to write a letter to a government official about saving something in the environment. ... He did the whole proposal to the principal of what his action plans were, what he needed to do.
Mrs. Beard supported me a lot and taught me some things that have been pretty key information, Cole said.
He held a fundraiser at home Aug. 1 and said it was a big turnout probably 25-30 people. ... No matter how hard it is, I know that Im helping the environment, so that keeps me going.
Cole is also working on a kids environmental activist page and plans to continue to work with fast-food chains to encourage the use of more post-consumer recyclable fibers.