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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A University of Tennessee scientist’s plan teaming youths, retirees and college professors to monitor pollution was a finalist in an international competition seeking practical solutions to environmental problems.

The proposal by Dr. Jack Barkenbus, director of UT’s Energy, Environment and Resources Center, was among the top three of 250 submitted in a contest at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Barkenbus’ plan calls for young people, seniors and university faculty to join forces to monitor and draw attention to community environmental problems.

His proposed activities include:
— College professors designing monitoring activities and consulting with communities.
— Retirees organizing environmental monitoring, training youth participants, supervising and ensuring reliable data.
— Young people doing actual monitoring under the guidance of the seniors.

“By combining these human resources, equipping them with simple technologies and assigning them the task of monitoring and characterizing community environmental indicators, we can set in motion a process whereby every community can track and improve its environmental health,” Barkenbus said.

Conoco, an international energy company, sponsored the St. Andrews contest. Top prize — a medal and $25,000 — was awarded for a plan to reverse urban environmental damage from mining in South Africa.