STRUTHERS River-pollution poster? It's a sign

The seventh-grader said her hope is that the poster will inspire all those who see it to do what they can to save the river.
STRUTHERS -- If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture posted on a billboard is priceless.
"Be a Giver, Save the River," says a poster created by Tina Emanuel, a seventh-grader at Struthers Middle School. It was transplanted last week on a billboard along Midlothian Boulevard near Big Lots.
Tina hopes it could help save one of the region's most important natural resources -- the Mahoning River.
The river is more than water. It is home to countless plants and creatures, a source of power, and offers opportunities for recreation.
Tina and her schoolmates learned about the river and its importance to nearby communities during an intensive two-week program in April.
Took part in project
As part of the schoolwide project, more than 550 students in grades five through eight created posters with themes based on what they learned: how to stop pollution of the river, how to conserve water, how to protect animals that live in or near the river, and the list goes on.
First-, second- and third-place winners and honorable mentions were awarded at every grade level.
Tina's poster, which illustrates the polluted state the river is in and the plight of the animals that live there, was so powerful school officials decided to share it with the community, said Ron Mistovich, an art teacher at the school.
On the poster, poisoned fish plead for their lives: "Please don't pollute. We're losing our home. Only you can help." Pepsi cans litter the riverbed. Sewage from a factory pours into the blue water leaving a murky green trail as it travels down stream.
"The green spots in the river show where the pollution is," Tina said. "I wanted to show point-source pollution [a term she learned during the intensive two-week program] so I put the factory in. And I wanted to show that individuals pollute, too, so I put the Pepsi cans in."
What she hopes
The seventh-grader said her hope is that the poster will inspire all those who see it to do what they can to save the river.
"We're the only ones who can stop pollution because we're the ones who started it," she said.
Tina, along with the first-place winners in grades five, six and eight received $50 U.S. Savings Bonds donated by the PTA. Second-place winners received $10 gift certificates for ice cream. Third-place winners received sports bottles and folders, and honorable mentions received certificates.
"Putting Tina's poster on a billboard was an afterthought," Mistovich said. It was installed May 23 and will remain on the billboard through June 19.
Lamar Advertising provided the billboard space at a discounted rate.