DECATUR, Ala. - At least one HVAC contractor is capitalizing on students’ interest in energy and the ecology. Pro-Air Services Inc., has created a scholarship opportunity for area high school seniors. The scholarship is named the Pro-Earth Scholarship.

The $2,000 scholarship winner needed to be an area high school senior who meets the following criteria:

• Plans to attend a technical, two-year or four-year college upon graduation from high school.

• Maintains a GPA of 3.0 or higher and/or a score equal to or greater than 24/1,650 on the ACT/SAT.

• Provides a written essay that defines the characteristics of a Pro-Earth person.

• Provides the contractor with Pro-Earth recommendations that can be implemented following being named the award recipient.

This year’s winner was Ella Davis of Decatur High School, who will be attending American University in Washington, D.C.

“The outstanding essay she wrote regarding being a Pro-Earth person, and her fantastic credentials, led to her selection as the 2010 Pro-Earth Scholarship winner,” said Jason Putnam, vice president of Pro-Air Services. “She will receive a check of $2,000 for her continued education at American University.”

More than 45 applicants competed for the scholarship, he added. This is the second year of the scholarship program. The 2009 winner now attends Auburn University.


The contractor first got involved in sponsoring this contest through one of its employees. “Billy Phelps thought of the idea as a way to give back to the community and the president of the company, Marshall Putnam, gave the green light and told me to do it,” said Jason Putnam. The contractor distributes a flyer to every school system in the Tennessee Valley area (34 city and county systems; private schools are eligible as well).

“It is open to all high school seniors that plan on continuing their education,” he said. “We ask them to write an essay that best defines a Pro-Earth person and have their high school counselor send in a letter with furthering education plans and GPA/test scores. If they are selected the winner, they must then give us ideas to make our company more of a Pro-Earth company.”

Both years the company received many high-level essays, “but each time we had one that really stood out,” Putnam said. “The $2,000 does not pay a kid’s way, but it certainly makes a nice supplement.”


The contractor gets a lot out of it. “Number one, our president has always been very conscious of the environment,” Putnam said. “Is he a tree-hugger radical? No, but he appreciates commonsense stuff like not littering, having energy-efficient lighting and heating for the warehouse, following all laws in regards to refrigerant handling, being knowledgeable in energy-efficient HVAC equipment/controls for the customer, being an expert at maintenance to cut down on energy usage in chilled-water plants, and always recycling when possible.”

In addition, there is the knowledge that the program has caused more than 110 kids over the past two years to sit down at the kitchen table and write an essay about being a Pro-Earth person.

“We know the program has touched many more kids that are classmates of those that apply as well. It has caused a number of young people and their families to think about the environment in a positive way. That is a good thing.

“So for $2,000 we get to touch a lot of people with a good message and directly supplement a young person who is continuing their education,” Putnam said. “Our company name is spoken by young people and their parents across the Tennessee Valley in a positive way.”

Finally, the winner’s recommendations can be incorporated into the business. “I recommend that other companies start a similar program,” said Putnam. “It does not have to be for $2,000 and Pro-Earth. It could be for $250 or $5,000, whatever best fits your budget. Have kids write an essay about patriotism, good health, HVAC, or whatever you feel strongly about.”

For more information, contact Putnam at

Publication date:08/02/2010