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Middlebury’s Katelyn Romanov Named America’s Next Eco-Star

ABOVE:  Katelyn accepting an award on behalf of her team for placing first in the Communications Contest at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.

Middlebury College campus sustainability leader Katelyn Romanov has won the title of America’s Next Eco-Star in the nationwide search for the standout among our country’s next generation of energy leaders.

Katelyn was selected by over 10,000 voters and a panel of experts to win the title, in a contest sponsored by SmartPower and the U.S. Department of Energy.

As a founding member of Sprout, a Middlebury student group dedicated to promoting environmental education in local schools, and the U.S. Green Building Council’s Middlebury student chapter, Katelyn’s clear capacity to organize and facilitate is what set her apart from the talented and diverse pool of young leaders from more than 100 schools across the country.

“We have found the future of energy and environmental activism – and her name is Katelyn Romanov,” said Brian F. Keane, SmartPower president. “Katelyn represents a new type of activist – one who combines energy and enthusiasm with a true understanding of what engages people.”

SmartPower was first introduced to Katelyn via Twitter when Middlebury’s Solar Decathlon team won SmartPower’s Social Media Energy Quiz. Katelyn directed communications for her crew and correctly answered the most energy questions from her team’s account: @MiddSD. It was the first time Katelyn impressed the SmartPower team, but it wouldn’t be the last.

More than 15,000 people voted in the first stage of the contest where Katelyn arose among the top 10 who moved along to the judging phases. Katelyn received 578 unique votes during the public voting period – a testament to her online campaigning flair.

One of the many awards Katelyn receives from the competition is a summer fellowship in SmartPower’s Washington, D.C., office where she will work closely with a team of energy experts to market clean energy and energy efficiency to the next generation of energy customers.

“We are thrilled to have Katelyn join us this summer,” continued Keane. “I hope she can learn a lot from our work, but I suspect that it’s all of us, and indeed the American people, who will be learning from her.”

In addition to her fellowship at SmartPower, Katelyn will receive a $1,000 grant to present to Middlebury’s sustainability office.

More than 15,000 Voters Select Top 10 in Nationwide Youth Energy Competition

Public voting has closed for America’s Next Eco-Star, a countrywide search for the standout among our nation’s next generation of energy leaders.

Brett Edwards, also known as the eco-conscious rapper “Mr. Eco,” topped the list with 1,371 unique votes. The California Polytechnic State University student is a project intern for the Alliance to Save Energy’s Green Campus Program, where he created Mr. Eco as an outreach tool. Mr. Eco’s raps include “The Prince of Fresh Air” and “You Can’t Find Me In The Tub.”

The cross-section of music and sustainability has proven to be an effective campaigning tool, as musician Elliott Beenk from the University of Iowa finished second after the public voting period closed, with 1,022 votes.

Also among the top 10 were Casey Fangman of Iowa State University, Chris Castro of the University of Central Florida, Lewis Segl of the University of St. Thomas, Mary Nell Johnson of the University of North Carolina, Katie Romanov of Middlebury College, Ian Champ of Purdue University, Zohra Roy of the George Washington University, and Megan Nicholas-Harper of Mills College.

"It is an honor to be the top vote recipient after the first round of the competition among a group of individuals who are all truly Eco-Stars,” said Edwards. “To reverse climate change, we all need to be on the same team and it is great to see individuals across the nation with the same passion I have fighting for sustainability.”

The top 10 Eco-Stars will move to the next phase of the competition where SmartPower’s staff of energy experts will determine the top five. Finally, a guest panel of judges, including representatives from the U.S. Department of Energy, will determine the winner, who will be crowned America’s Next Eco-Star.

The winner will receive:

  • An all-expenses-paid trip to the summer 2012 Sustainable Futures Academy at the Salzburg Global Seminar in Austria; and 
  • A fellowship in the Washington, D.C., office of SmartPower. 

 The winning contestant’s college or university will receive:  

  • A $1,000 grant to the school’s sustainability office; 
  • An invitation for the school’s president to join a select group of sustainability experts at the 2012 Sustainable Futures Academy at the Salzburg Global Seminar; and; 
  • National recognition as the home of America’s Next-Eco Star and a leader in campus sustainability. 

The top 5 will be announced on Friday, March 2, and the winner will be announced on Friday, March 16. For more information, visit