NEW HYDE PARK, NY--(Marketwire - April 17, 2008) - Two teams of students from Herricks High School in New Hyde Park will be celebrating this Earth Day. Not only have they done their part to protect the planet, they've also emerged as two of only 14 first place teams throughout the country who have each won $50,000 in the Lexus Environmental Challenge, a national competition designed by Lexus and Scholastic to educate and empower teens to think big about possible solutions that could make a positive impact on the environment.

Herricks High School will receive a $20,000 grant, the teacher advisor will get a $10,000 grant, and each student team will receive $35,000 in scholarships to be shared by the members. Throughout the seven-month-long environmental education program and contest, more than $1 million in grants and scholarships have been awarded.

"When we introduced this challenge, we really had no idea what kind of programs the students would dream up," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president and general manager. "Well, now we know they're not afraid to dream big, and act on those dreams. We were amazed at all the teams' innovative ideas, their ingenuity and their pure passion for the topics they chose to address. It's exciting to see these young people discover their voices and learn they have the power to make a difference."

Herricks High School's teams, "The Elementals" and "Vampire Exterminators," focused their Final Challenge efforts on energy conservation/global warming and "vampire" electronics, respectively.

Informing at least 10,000 people worldwide about how to fight global warming was the goal of the eight students who comprised "The Elementals." They developed a campaign to encourage people to change from incandescent to fluorescent light bulbs and distributed their message through a Web site, Facebook, and posters and fliers that were distributed at libraries, community groups and even their local Lexus dealership.

"Vampire Exterminators" consisted of five students who worked to educate people about how appliances, when left plugged into the wall, continue to siphon energy even if switched off, emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which contributes to global warming. The team contacted politicians throughout the country and world, in multiple languages, to try to influence their energy policies. They also launched a petition campaign in Times Square to gather thousands of signatures from people throughout the world.

According to the team's teacher advisor Richard Quan, "The Lexus Environmental Challenge has greatly increased the awareness of many environmental issues affecting our school and communities. It inspired my students to take the challenges, act on them, and discover that they can make a positive difference. We have only taken one step on our long journey to make the world a better place."

The final winners were selected from 55 teams that qualified for this Final Challenge by winning in one or more of the four previous Challenges that were held from September to February. These initial Challenges, addressing land, air, water and climate, asked teams to take a stand for the environment in their local community and winning teams in these categories each won $3,000. The Final Challenge required teams to reach beyond the local community and inspire environmental action around the world through innovative ideas that were communicated to a wide audience.

The Lexus Environmental Challenge will enter its second year in fall 2008. Teachers and students are encouraged to visit to view all the winning entries and to learn how they can take part in next year's program.

Contact Information: Media Contact: Sandra Levy (562) 391-1516