White House, EPA Honor Environmental Education Award Winners

On Friday, July 17, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will recognize the winners and honorable mentions for the annual President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) and Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). The 44 students and 27 teachers from across the country will be honored at a ceremony at the White House for outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship.

The event will be live streamed at https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/white-house-environmental-student-and-teacher-awards.

In addition, EPA and the National Environmental Education Foundation will announce the winner of NEEF’s 2015 Bartlett Award. The Bartlett Award is given to an outstanding PIAEE winner for demonstrating creative integration of environmental education across subject areas, engaging others in interdisciplinary solutions to environmental challenges, and increasing student achievement within and beyond the classroom.

“To solve our future environmental challenges, young people need to understand the science behind the natural world — and create a personal connection to the outdoors,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “These teachers and students are demonstrating the important role of environmental education, and showing how individual actions can help address climate change, protect the air we breathe, and safeguard the water we drink.”

The PIAEE awards are given to environmental educators who use innovative, hands-on, experiential approaches. Winning teachers led unique programs such as conserving nearby aquatic ecosystems, building a hydrogen fuel-cell powered Model T car, and developing outdoor laboratories and classrooms.

PIAEE Winners:

  • Ross McCurdy, North Scituate, RI
  • Minnuette Rodríguez, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Sven Strnad, Plainsboro, NJ
  • Liam McGranaghan, Purcellville, VA
  • Anne Moore, Goochland, VA
  • Robert Hodgdon, Richmond Hill, GA
  • Jenna Mobley, Atlanta, GA
  • Lisa Bircher, East Palestine, OH
  • Jolie Hobbs, Van Buren, AR
  • Michael Hotz, Kansas City, KS
  • Sara Forness, West Fargo, ND
  • Sarah Lord, Billings, MT
  • James Powell, Atherton, CA
  • Ryan Monger, Sultan, WA
  • Robert Shepard, Edmonds, WA

PIAEE Honorable Mentions:

  • Morgan Cuthbert, Yarmouth, ME
  • Kim Preshoff, Williamsville, NY
  • Jessica McAtamney, Philadelphia, PA
  • Kevin Willis, Carmichaels, PA
  • Kathleen King, Stockbridge, GA
  • Carrie Settles, Lawrenceville, GA
  • Joseph Brady, New Philadelphia, OH
  • Lesley Zylstra, Milwaukee, WI
  • Josh Armstrong, Flagstaff, AZ
  • Jackie Lacey, San Bernadino, CA
  • Barbara Bromley, Silverdale, WA
  • Sarah Gotschall, JBER, AK

The PEYA awards celebrate student leadership in service projects to protect the environment and build a livable, sustainable global community.

PEYA-winning projects:

  • “Operation Ban the Bottle,” Lincoln-Sudbury High School, Sudbury, MA. Team Name: Lincoln-Sudbury High School Environmental Club
  • “It’s a Pressing Matter,” Little Egg Harbor, NJ. Team Name: Pinelands Eco Scienteers.
  • “Conversion of Plant Waste Materials into Useful Fuel Blocks for Combustion,” Fairfax, VA. Individual Project Lead: Eugene Jeong
  • “A Green and Novel Technology for Recovering Copper and Wood from Treated Wood Waste—Part 1,” Durham, NC. Individual Project Lead: Sharon Chen
  • “EcoErek,” Curtice, OH. Individual Project Lead: Erek Hansen
  • “Arsenic: It’s What’s for Dinner,” Whiteface, TX. Team Name: Arsenic Arresters
  • “South Boulder Creek Flood Restoration,” Boulder, CO. Individual Project Lead: Seth Blum
  • “Don’t Be a Nurdle, Help the Sea Turtle” Watsonville, CA. Team Name: Mount Madonna School
  • “Creating an Efficient and Novel Method for Remediation of Marine Oil Spills through Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Principles,” Portland, OR. Individual Project Lead: Sahil Veeramoney

Today, EPA is also announcing a new interagency agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to support both research and on-the-ground work that will help foster the student-nature connection through environmental education, stewardship and conservation. The agreement will help advance the Hands On the Land (HOL) program, a national network of partnerships between federal agencies and local schools that creates opportunities for students to learn in America’s largest classrooms – national parks, wildlife refuges, monuments, and other federally-owned public lands. Formed in 1999, HOL now has more than 150 partnerships around the country. This agreement will support development of 20 new school partnerships. The agreement will also support environmental education research, including a review of citizen science and experiential outdoor youth education programs. This research effort will seek to improve the understanding and recognition of the role of environmental education in achieving environmental and conservation goals, helping students develop lifelong learning skills, and fostering a greater sense of respect and responsibility for the environment among communities.

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