Two Local Students Named 'Chicago's Best' in International Children's Painting Competition By United Nations Environment Program

CHICAGO, June 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Thirteen-year old Andrey Velizarow Simeonovski, a fifth-grader at Chase Elementary School, and seven-year old Patrick Lambe, a first-grader from St. Monica's Academy, were named the two local winners of the United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) 17th annual International Children's Painting Competition (ICPC) in North America for their artwork on the theme, "Climate Change: Actions We Can Take Now."

The two winners were each awarded the "Chicago's Best" prize on World Environment Day by UNEP and Bayer Corporation representatives at the Chicago Botanic Garden during the first-ever unveiling of the International Children's Painting Competition Exhibition in North America, featuring 87 works by children from the United States, Canada and Mexico. Bayer Corporation and Bayer AG are regional and global sponsors, respectively, of both World Environment Day and the International Children's Painting Competition.

In addition, the Bayer USA Foundation launched a new World Environment Day Community Grants program, bestowing the first annual $10,000 grant to the Chicago Botanic Garden for an environmental project to be undertaken by students at Waters Elementary, a Chicago Public School. With this new philanthropic program, $10,000 grants will be awarded each year for environmental education projects at schools located in the various World Environment Day host cities that are selected annually by UNEP's Regional Office in North America (RONA).

In the case of the Chicago Botanic Garden and Waters Elementary, the grant will be used to keep the school's Media Lab online throughout the summer to enable students to monitor and document important environmental transformations being undertaken at the school. One or more films will be produced that highlight different aspects of the "greening" of Waters, such as waste reduction, water retention, transportation alternatives and organic gardening, among others. Waters representatives will report on the progress of their project at the 2009 World Environment Day event.

"When it comes to the issues of environmental protection, climate change and sustainable development, everyone has a role to play -- from the largest multi-national corporation to the youngest elementary school student," said Willy Scherf, CEO of Bayer Corporate and Business Services LLC. "That is why we at Bayer are proud and honored to partner with UNEP to help sponsor both World Environment Day and the painting competition.

"Bayer is working to help create a healthier planet. On a global level, the Bayer Climate Change program has set ambitious targets for emissions reduction and is investing approximately $1.5 billion between 2008 and 2010 in climate-change research and development. We also support global organizations like UNEP that have programs dedicated to environmental education and advocacy. Right here in the U.S., the philanthropic work of the Bayer USA Foundation continues to demonstrate this commitment."

More than 400 Chicago-area students from Pulaski, St. Monica's, Waters, McCorkle Elementary, and Ravinia Elementary were on hand for the unveiling of the painting exhibition, which will be on display at the Chicago Botanic Garden from May 31 to June 30. They joined Bayer's Scherf; Connie Yu, the North American region second prize ICPC winner; Dr. Mae C. Jemison, physician, environmental studies professor and the nation's first African-American female astronaut; representatives from the Chicago Botanic Garden; and regional, national and international experts who participated in a forum on climate change at the garden.

"I always say the three Cs -- curiosity, creativity and critical thinking -- are central to science. The Waters School filmmaking project and the International Children's Painting Competition highlight the intersection of those three key ingredients," said Dr. Jemison, who also serves as national spokesperson for Bayer's Making Science Make Sense(R) (MSMS) program. "It is impressive to see students of all ages visually portray their ideas about concepts surrounding climate change in paintings. They captured the essence of this year's World Environment Day theme with great flair."

Amy Fraenkel, Director of UNEP RONA, added, "With its support of the painting competition and creation of the World Environment Day Community Grants program, Bayer has demonstrated its own creativity and commitment to issues we all need to be concerned about as global citizens. We are extremely proud and excited to be working with Bayer here in North America and commend the company for supporting an outside-the-box approach to traditional science education that uses the arts and a hands-on, hearts-on, minds-on education approach as a way to foster the next generation of environmentalists."

The International Children's Painting Competition is a signature event of UNEP's World Environment Day celebrations held annually on June 5 since 1972. It invites elementary and middle school students, ages six to 14, from around the world to learn more about the environment and express that knowledge creatively through art. Regional winners from UNEP's six global regions of Africa; Asia and the Pacific; West Asia; North America; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Europe are announced on Earth Day in April, while global winners are named on World Environment Day in June.

In 2007, as part of the company's national award-winning Making Science Make Sense program, Bayer Corporation announced a new partnership with UNEP RONA to launch the International Children's Painting Competition in Bayer's MSMS partner schools in six of its local site communities, including Pittsburgh; the San Francisco Bay area; the Greater Kansas City area; Northern Indiana; Northern New Jersey; and New Martinsville, W.Va.

About World Environment Day

World Environment Day is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action. With thousands of events in the six UNEP regions, World Environment Day is considered the largest environmental event of its kind. Both Bayer AG and Bayer Corporation are global and regional sponsors, respectively, of World Environment Day.

About Bayer Corporation's Making Science Make Sense

Making Science Make Sense (MSMS) is Bayer Corporation's company-wide initiative that advances science literacy through hands-on, inquiry-based science education, employee volunteerism and a public education campaign. Currently, 12 Bayer sites around the country operate local MSMS programs, which together represent a national volunteer corps of more than 1,000 employees.

About Bayer USA Foundation

The Bayer USA Foundation is an endowed 501(c)(3) entity and is the primary source of Bayer Corporation's philanthropy in the United States. With a programmatic focus on the environment and sustainability; education and workforce development; arts and culture; and health and human services, the foundation creates and supports organizations that improve communities in which Bayer employees live and work, as well as society at large. The Bayer USA Foundation is one of three Bayer foundations worldwide, including the Bayer Science & Education Foundation and the Bayer Cares Foundation.

About Bayer Corporation

Bayer Corporation, headquartered in Pittsburgh, is a subsidiary of Bayer AG, an international health care, nutrition and high-tech materials group based in Leverkusen, Germany. In North America, Bayer had 2007 net sales of 8.1 billion euros and employed 16,800 at year end. Bayer's three subgroups, Bayer HealthCare, Bayer CropScience and Bayer MaterialScience, improve people's lives through a broad range of essential products that help diagnose, prevent and treat diseases; protect crops and enhance yields; and advance automobile safety and durability.

About United Nations Environment Programme

Established in 1972 following the United Nation's Conference on the Human Environment, UNEP's mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

About Bayer and UNEP

Bayer AG is the first company in the world to forge a long-term partnership with UNEP in the area of youth and environment. The partners first began cooperating on youth environmental projects in Asia in the late 1990s. In 2004, Bayer and UNEP signed a framework agreement to globalize this partnership that, in August 2007, was extended by another three years. The partners have jointly organized a dozen environmental projects for young people around the world, including the TUNZA International Youth Conference, the Young Environmental Envoys Program, Eco-Minds Youth Environmental Forum and the International Children's Painting Competition held in conjunction with World Environment Day. Bayer Corporation in the United States supports UNEP's World Environment Day activities in North America.

Further information on the partnership between UNEP and Bayer is available on the Internet at: .

SOURCE Bayer Corporation