Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced the winners of the annual Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and President’s Environmental Youth Award, (PEYA) recognizing outstanding student leaders in environmental stewardship and K-12 teachers employing innovative approaches to environmental education in their schools. In a ceremony at the White House, 17 teachers and 60 students from across the nation are being honored for their contributions to environmental education and stewardship.
“These awards recognize the outstanding contributions of student leaders and exceptional teachers on some of the most pressing issues facing our nation, including combating climate change and instituting sustainability practices,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Environmental education encourages academic achievement, especially in the sciences, and develops the next generation of leaders in environmental stewardship.”
This year, students are receiving awards for projects including activities such as creating a novel water purification method, assessing apples as a sustainable fuel source, and reducing the carbon footprint of a school to help combat climate change. Teachers being honored this year have employed interactive, hands-on learning projects such as opening a marine science station, designing a solar powered garden irrigation system, building a nature trail, and connecting students to their natural surroundings through field studies. These students and teachers creatively utilize their local ecosystems, environment, community and culture as a context for learning.
“To deal with immense challenges like climate change, we need a generation of leaders who don’t back away from complex environmental problems, and who have the skills to solve them,” said Mike Boots, Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “Across the country, environmental education is helping develop that generation of leaders, and the students and teachers being recognized today are remarkable examples of this kind of education at its best.”
The PIAEE and PEYA awardees demonstrate the creativity, innovation, leadership and passion for community engagement needed to face difficult environmental challenges. Teachers and students attending the ceremony will also be participating in a workshop led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss climate and best practices in the field of climate education.
And today, NOAA, the US Global Change Research Program, and collaborators from both the National Climate Assessment network of stakeholders (NCAnet) and the CLEAN Network are releasing a series of guides for educators focused on each of the regions covered in the U.S. National Climate Assessment released by the Obama Administration in May 2014. The guides, which are being deployed on climate.gov, aim to help unpack regional findings and scientific messages, provide links to key resources, and connect educators with the climate-relevant information they need.
Additionally, the National Environmental Education Foundation and EPA announced the winner of the 2014 Bartlett Award. This additional recognition is given each year to an exceptionally outstanding PIAEE award winner, who can serve as an inspiration and model to others.
PEYA winners include students from 9 states, including Washington, Iowa, Oklahoma, North Carolina and New Hampshire. PIAEE winners and honorable mentions include teachers from 23 states and territories, including Vermont, Texas, Colorado, Kansas, Guam and Puerto Rico.
- For details on the new PIAEE winners, visit http://www2.epa.gov/education/presidential-innovation-award-environmental-educators-piaee-winners
- For details on the Bartlett award winners, visit http://www.neefusa.org/bartlettaward.htm
- For details on the new PEYA winners, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/education/presidents-environmental-youth-award-peya-winners.