Cast Your Vote for the “Hardest-Working ___ in America”

Check out the videos for all ten Mitchum "Hardest-Working ___ in America" finalists. Screenshot: Mitchum Contest

Mitchum’s brand team calls its product the “hardest working anti-perspirant in America.” And, as part of their latest advertising strategy, they’re running a contest that invites people to submit videos of the “hardest-working ____ in America.” Entrants were invited to fill in the blank with a noun, then to post a video about themselves or someone else they nominated. The goal is to convince the rest of us to vote for them.

Ten finalists were announced in mid July, and the public is invited to vote until August 15 by clicking the name of their favorite on the Mitchum contest website. The prizes are impressive, with the Grand Prize at $100,000; the Second Prize at $20,000; and the “Audience Award” at $5,000 plus a “Golden Stick” of Mitchum Deodorant (really?).

While this is obviously another clever marketing strategy similar to a few other companies’ efforts  (Pepsi and Intuit come to mind), the stakes are high enough that the prize could do some real good. And that’s why I’m weighing in with a suggestion that you take a look at the videos of the ten finalists and choose the one that resonates with you.

Today, I received a link on Facebook to a video about Chad Pregracke, who has been nominated as the “hardest-working do-gooder in America.” I’ve heard about Pregracke’s work for a few years now. He is the crusader who has been steadily cleaning up the Mississippi River for a decade, going up and down the Big Muddy with a tugboat and a small crew, pulling all manner of trash from the water and the banks.

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But Pregracke hasn’t stopped with the Mississippi River. He’s traveled to rivers across the U.S., leading teams of volunteers and inspiring them to get involved in cleaning up their own local waterways. Pregracke follows a long tradition started by Pete Seeger on his schooner Clearwater, and Larry Long, who established the Mississippi River Revival. Pregracke just earned my vote in the Mitchum contest.

You may prefer someone else. But you won’t know unless you view the videos. Why not take a few minutes to watch each entry, then vote for the one you think is most deserving? And if you don’t want to take the time to view them all, I hope you’ll vote for Chad Pregracke. He may just be cleaning up a river in your state soon.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Fauna Extreme Coloring Book Inspires Girls

Fauna Extreme publishes a coloring book targeted to young girls. But it doesn’t have a princess theme or a cute kitty or an adorable pony in it. This is a coloring book about power and strength and athleticism. And I’m going to tell you about it — as well as about a contest to win one. But first, I want to go back into time and talk a bit about the world I grew up in. Please bear with me.

A Different Era

When I was a little girl (oh, about a million years ago), boys got to do all the cool things. They played with trucks. They played Army. They were daredevils. They even occasionally swore (swear words weren’t as commonplace among kids as they are today). I didn’t want to be a “girly-girl.” I wanted to be tough, too. I had opinions. I liked being physical and running and jumping. But I was frequently told, “You can’t do that; you’re a girl.” It didn’t always stop me, but sometimes it did.

Broyles' daughters colored some of the pages to inspire others to do the same. Illustration by Houston artist Paul Sanchez. Photo: Sarah Broyles

Where I grew up, in Los Angeles, California; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Dallas, Texas, among others, girls didn’t play competitive sports in high school. Oh, we had one girl on the tennis team at my high school in Dallas. And there was a drill team, where the girls wore tight satin shorts matching tops, boots — and gloves. (Yeah, it was a long time ago.) And the year before that, when I lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, there was a synchronized swim team. But we girls were offered nothing else even remotely athletic besides cheer leading. Both of my high schools had co-ed cheer leading squads.

I loved to run, and probably would have been a sprinter, but we didn’t have that as an option. In fact, running track didn’t enter my consciousness as a possibility until I was an adult living in rural Iowa. The smaller cities in Iowa had had girls’ basketball for decades. It was six-on-six basketball back then, a modified version from what the boys played, but at least it was a competitive high school sport. When I learned that small-town high school girls had been playing sports for years, though I hadn’t even been able to conceive of it, I felt cheated. Why should the boys have all the fun?

This is a very different era, and Title 9 funding has created a space for girls to participate in competitive sports. But let’s get real here. Even today, girls and women don’t always see athleticism as a positive thing. Though it’s a far cry from the “a woman’s place is in the home” world of Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver (two shows my family watched religiously), it is still a sexist world. Girls and women are valued for how we look — often at least as much, and sometimes more than — how we perform in sports or school or on the job. Sadly, that hasn’t changed so much from the ’60s. Don’t believe me? Look at just about any magazine cover targeted to women or to men.

Athletes may admire each other, and parents are typically very happy to see their daughters, as well as their sons, striving for physical strength and prowess. But once high school is over, many of those same girls who played basketball, soccer, or volleyball are strutting their stuff, trying to look sexy and cool instead of competent.

We live in a university town, and we see it all too often. It makes me sad to watch young women with brains and talent choose the sleaziest clothes they can find to get attention, rather than awing the guys with their smarts, their sense of humor, or their grace on the basketball court. Isn’t there something wrong with this picture? Or is it really just my old-fashioned perception of the world?

Celebrate Being a Girl

So how does all this relate to a coloring book?

The Peregrine Falcon, colored by Broyles' daughter. Illustration by Paul Sanchez. Photo: Sarah Broyles

Sarah Broyles, the publisher of the Fauna Extreme coloring book, has two daughters. The younger one likes “girly” stuff. The older girl, Parker, considers herself a “tomboy.” (That’s a term I used to describe myself from time to time when I was her age.) And that troubles Sarah. One day, Parker, declared to Sarah that she was a tomboy. Sarah tried to convince her it was a sexist term that limits the things girls are “supposed to” like. Parker replied,

“So I’m not a girl. I don’t like dumb, girly stuff. I’m a tomboy.”

Reflecting on their conversation, Sarah wrote on her blog,

Errr. This isn’t the thought process I want for her. She’s supposed to be proud of being a girl. Feeling that girl power! Not downing her gender and grouping herself with the “cooler” boys. You don’t have to like pink and you don’t have to like ponies, but you do have to understand and believe that all girls are awesome, even the pink pony girls. Those girls are just as strong and cool and amazing. In fact, I’m just now realizing that I think “girly girl” is a sexist term, too, and I’m not going to use it anymore. It implies that liking feminine things means you’re not a strong girl. Nah uh. Trust me–Miss Bridget [her younger daughter] has an independent spirit of her own and is just as strong and opinionated as her older sister. Her preschool teacher would agree!

Femininity does not hinder strength; it enhances it. Feminine power is more captivating than your basic, run-of-the-mill manpower. Don’t worry; I’m not about to bash guys. They’re great, too, of course. But when strength and power and talent are entangled with femininity, some kind of X factor erupts, creating a beauty in athleticism that I just don’t feel when watching a man perform in whatever sport. What am I trying to say? We don’t run or bike or swim as fast as the guys. We don’t throw as far. We don’t hit as hard. We don’t lift as much. And that’s exactly what’s so badass about us. We have some kind of emotional underdog quality that’s riveting to watch and feel part of. We are the inspiring gender.

Sarah, a marathon athlete who didn’t start running until after she’d had two children, admires animal athletes and was inspired to create beautiful running tees, necklaces, and now a coloring book that celebrates them. She calls her business Fauna Extreme.

Fauna Extreme is about ladies embracing animal athletes — feeling inspired by their speed, strength, stamina and tenacity — inspiring us to persevere and overcome. Simply put — Fauna Extreme is about girl power via the wonders of wildlife

Beautiful Images, Fascinating Facts

African Elephant, as colored by Broyles' daughter. Illustration by Paul Sanchez. Photo: Sarah Broyles

The coloring book is filled with the same detailed images of the animals that grace the Fauna Extreme tees and necklaces. But there’s more to the Fauna Extreme coloring book than just images of beautiful animals. Sarah has written a profile of each animal, featuring fascinating facts such as these paragraphs about the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus):

The “greyhound” of cats is built for rapid results. Her long legs, powerful heart, and strong arteries add up to some serious speed. She can accelerate from 0 to 40 mph in three strides and reach 70 mph in seconds. She’s the only cat with specialized, semi-retractable claws, gripping the ground like spikes on a track. She can maintain a high-speed chase for 400 to 600 yards, but then she’s totally exhausted and stops for a much needed rest.  Upon winning her trophies, she must quickly hide them from stronger bullies who will steal her precious prizes.

There are approximately 10,000 cheetahs left on Earth today, placing her on the list of Endangered Species. To learn more about protecting this animal athlete, visit the Cheetah Conservation Fund at

Beyond the 12 beautiful images and profiles, Broyles has included seven pages of review questions and activities. She donates a portion of all sales to wildlife conservation funds.

There are other good things about the book, too. The pages are made from 50% post-consumer waste and the cover is 100% post-consumer waste. The paper is processed free of chlorine, and all print is made with wax-based inks. To top it off, the coloring book was “created with 100% wind power.”

So, if you know and love a little girl, and you want her to identify with the strength and grace of some of the world’s most amazing animals, get her a Fauna Extreme coloring book. Help her to understand that it’s both cool and beautiful to be athletic, to have her own power, and to be exactly who she is. (Boys may like it, too, but the text and messaging is directed to girls.)

Win a Fauna Extreme Coloring Book

Broyles is giving away one copy of the Fauna Extreme coloring book to a Blue Planet Green Living reader. Though the coloring book is targeted to girls, boys are welcome to enter. Here are the guidelines:

  • Entrants must be younger than 18 and live in the U.S.
  • Choose an animal they admire for its “speed, strength, stamina, strategy, or spunk.”
  • Either draw a picture of the animal illustrating how it exhibits the above characteristices OR write no more than one page describing how the animal fits those criteria.
  • Send an email to Sarah Broyles with your scanned drawing attached and/or your ext typed into the email.
  • Your parents must sign your work to verify that you have permission to participate.
  • Include your name, age, and complete mailing address.

Sarah Broyles and her daughters will determine the winner based on how well the entries describe or illustrate the characteristics of an animal’s “speed, strength, stamina, strategy, or spunk.” The winner will be announced on both Blue Planet Green Living and the Fauna Extreme website. Selected entrants will have their artwork or written work posted on both sites. A parent must sign to indicate that they give their child permission to have original work posted on the websites. No work will be returned. 

The entry deadline is noon, July 15, 2010. Good luck!
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Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Related Post

Fauna Extreme Tees – For Inspiration and Style

Green Campus Project Wants Your Vote

The EZRide Scooter is one of the many electric bikes Leenhouts envisions in active use on college and university campuses. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

Have you ever had a dream about a great project that would benefit humanity? Maybe it was little more than an idea. Or maybe you actually got to the stage where you had it all planned out and ready to go, but the funding just wasn’t there.

That’s where Marty Leenhouts finds himself today. He has an idea about a Green Campus Project that will benefit college and university students, reduce emissions and traffic congestion, and make the world a little greener. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have the funds to make his vision a reality.

But PepsiCo does. And Pepsi has invited people with vision to submit their own project ideas to the Pepsi Refresh Project, to compete for some pretty hefty cash prizes each month. Here’s the story of one of those projects, in the Planet category. As visionary Marty Leenhouts says, “The fulfillment of the Green Campus project will only happen with the winning of the contest.” If you support Leenhouts’ vision, you can vote for the Green Campus Project each day this month.

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked Leenhouts to tell us about his vision and what he hopes to accomplish with the Green Campus Project. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

LEENHOUTS: I’m an educator by heart and by trade for many years, and so my interest has been with students for a long time. My involvement with electric transportation began with an interest in doing something good for the environment. I started it when gas was over $3 a gallon — about a year and a half ago.

Marty Leenhouts, Green Campus Project visionary. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

People needed a different way to get around that was economical, clean, quiet, easy to ride. Nothing deluxe. Just to get from point A to point B. That got me involved in electric transportation.

The hard part that I have found with getting the word out about electric transportation has been how to effectively show university students that this is a great mode of transportation for them while they’re in college. They go from dorm to class, from class to work, from work to here — they just go a lot of short routes every day. Why start up their car or gas-powered scooter when they can hop on an electric bike and just go from here to there? It makes sense to me, but so far I haven’t been able to get the word out to university students, so that was the foundation of the Green Campus Project.

BPGL: If you do get the funds for the Green Campus Project, what will it look like on those campuses?

LEENHOUTS: What I envision on these campuses with the Green Campus Project is that the students or student group that is in charge of the project on their campus will do a monthly demonstration or promotion — an informational gathering of some type. They will eventually meet the goal, which is to expose 60,000 university students to electrical transportation.

How they exactly carry that out on their own university campus is something that I will work with them on. Then I’ll hold them accountable. At the end of each month they’ll submit a report to me as to what took place, how successful it was, and what they’ll plan for next month, changes they’ll make, and so on.

That’s the main goal. The student team, or student directors, will have available to them a number of electric bikes and scooters that they will use not only for their personal use, but for demonstration purposes as well. And if they want to rent them out or loan them out to others to try, that’s part of their plan to carry out the project.

Braking and pedaling generate a small amount of battery charge on the e-bikes. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

BPGL: How many bikes and scooters do you anticipate that the $30,000 at University of Minnesota or the $20,000 at Minnesota University at Mankato could purchase?

LEENHOUTS: Fifteen to twenty per university. That would be about $20,000 worth of units per university. So we’re looking at probably 40 units. For example, I’m in good communication with another Midwest university. They are very much aware and interested in our program, because they have a green initiative on campus. The director of their initiative mentioned to me that they would plan that the students involved would have units to use on their own, but they would probably work with their outdoor department. They would have other units available on a rental basis so that as many students as possible could try them, if they wanted to.

BPGL: Is the goal to get the universities to purchase a fleet of these for student use, or is it to just encourage students to buy the scooters for themselves? How do you see this playing out over the long run?

LEENHOUTS: It could go either direction, however the university felt it would be most successful. The team that is involved with it could make it an entrepreneurship on their own — a regular venture — if they were interested in bringing units in for other students to purchase. Or they could work directly with their university on a rental basis so that students could replace their gas-powered units with these electric units to ease parking demands, reduce noise, and help congestion.

BPGL: Will they be allowed to park these in bike racks?

LEENHOUTS: Yes. Most of the units are electric-assisted bicycles that don’t need a special license plate or special insurance. The campus, of course, has to work this out with their own transportation department. At Iowa State University, for example, they’ve already worked through all of that, so these units can be parked in bicycle racks.

The motor on this bike is at the rear wheel. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

BPGL: Where can they charge the motorized bikes?

LEENHOUTS: They plug into any normal wall outlet. Most of the units have an easily removable battery pack, so they could take the battery pack out, carry it into their apartment or dorm room, and charge it up. It’s real handy for the students in that way.

BPGL: Tell us about the Pepsi Refresh Project contest.

LEENHOUTS: It’s a popular-vote, grant contest. My main effort in April is to get the word out about voting for this because every person can vote once a day per email address. The voting goes until the end of the month. And at that time, the top ten in each category will be awarded the grant money. Pepsi is giving away $1.3 million every month in different categories. The Planet is one of their categories, and that’s the one the Green Campus Project fits into. They have categories of $5,000, $25,000, $50,000, $250,000. They’re giving away the top 10 in the first three categories, and the top 2 in the $250,000 category. That totals up to $1.3 million.

BPGL: How long does this go on?

LEENHOUTS: They’re doing it once a month for this calendar year, I believe.

BPGL: Does your project get to stay in all year? Or is this only for one month and then you drop out?

LEENHOUTS: They carry over 400 of those that don’t win from the previous month to the next month. I hope that won’t be necessary. When you push real hard for one month, it’s pretty hard to push again with your same database the second month. That would be really tough.

This 500-Watt electric scooter is great for getting around on college and university campuses. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

BPGL: I see today your project is 112th in the Planet category. Out of how many?

LEENHOUTS: They accept 1,000 every month, total, in all the categories, plus the 400 carryovers. In the Planet category there are 3- or 400. It’s moving. That’s encouraging. I started at 300 something, then with all the support I’m getting, it’s pretty encouraging. I’m still working hard at it.

BPGL: Is anyone else collaborating with you?

LEENHOUTS: No. I’m pretty much doing this on my own, with the support of my family and friends.

BPGL: I have to ask this, Marty. What do you get out of this if it wins?


Not a whole lot. Mostly I get the promotion of electric bikes that I do carry. And I’m not going to mark those up very much at all to put them on these campuses. My main goal is promotional.

But that’s a good question: What do I get out of it? I’ve tried my hardest to get the word out on college campuses, and it’s been difficult. Trying to get permission to do this or trying to advertise, it’s been hard to be able to fund that promotion. So this Green Campus Project will allow that promotion to be able to happen. Hopefully, students will see the value of this and grab hold of it.

BPGL: Do you manufacture these bikes?

LEENHOUTS: I work with two companies that assemble the bikes here in the Midwest. That’s why I’m concentrating sort of on the Midwest, but it doesn’t have to stop there with this Green Campus Project.

BPGL: I’m looking at your website, There are a lot of electric bikes and scooters. There don’t seem to be big bins for students to carry groceries or things like that, which I think would be a major motivator.

LEENHOUTS: The EZ Ride and some of the other e-scooters have a basket on the front with a trunk on the back.

The 3-Wheel Electric Scooter is a mobility scooter with adjustable speeds. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

BPGL: There’s one that says, “electric mobility, 3-wheeled mobility.” The seat on that one reminds me of a wheelchair.

LEENHOUTS: It’s a three-wheeled mobility scooter.

BPGL: I’m not familiar with the term “mobility scooter.”

LEENHOUTS: There are a number of electric mobility scooters. You’ve probably seen them in malls and stores. They have very small wheels on them, often four-wheeled units. People that can’t get around will ride in these electric carts. They only go three or four miles per hour, whereas this unit has larger wheels.

Ours has a speed controller, which is where the “mobility” factor comes into play. Someone could turn that down to a very low crawling speed, which could be used in a store, for that matter, for those people who have difficulty walking that far. But it also will go quite quickly for those that want to increase their speed a little bit. It’s the fastest mobility scooter around. It’s got a lot of variety for those that aren’t comfortable on two wheels.

BPGL: Tell us about the mountain bike.

LEENHOUTS: Our electric mountain bikes are very popular. They get a lot of attention. They have a real nice motor on them. You can pedal them just like a bike or you can use the motor for assist. They’re very stylish.

The electric mountain bikes are lightweight and stylish. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

The mountain bike version has an all-aluminum frame. The one shown on our website is without the cross bar, so that’s the women’s model. It has aluminum wheels, disc brakes, a lithium battery, and is very light-weight.

BPGL: Do these bikes also charge as you pedal them?

LEENHOUTS: They do regenerate slightly when pedaling and braking.

BPGL: Why are you interested in getting these electric bikes on college campuses?

LEENHOUTS: I think it’s the ideal product for student transportation. Starting up your car to drive two miles, then starting it up again to drive back, it’s just so inefficient.

BPGL: And why would this be better than, say, pedaling a bike?

LEENHOUTS: It’s not necessarily better than pedaling a bike. Normal bicycles are the greenest form of transportation. Electric bikes are for people that have a longer distance to travel, and they might not want to work up a sweat by  pedaling a bike. E-bikes are also faster.

Marty Leenhouts demonstrates the EZRide scooter. Photo: Courtesy Marty Leenhouts

BPGL: Do you have a storefront, Marty?

LEENHOUTS: No, just an online store.

BPGL: So people actually buy scooters on line?

LEENHOUTS: Yes. But that’s not my main emphasis. My main emphasis is to sell these direct, so people can test-drive them, and I can answer all their questions. Providing local service and support is important to me, too.

BPGL: How can our readers help support your project in the Pepsi Refresh Contest?

LEENHOUTS: They can vote for the Green Campus Project once each day this month. And I’ll be happy to send a daily email to remind them to vote for the Green Campus Project. They can sign up through the e-Scooter website. All emails will stop when voting ends on April 30th, and the list with names and emails will be deleted.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)