President's Environmental Youth Award (PEYA)
In 2012, Julia Dixon of Lake Forest, Ill. was co-head of the Lake Forest Country Day School's environmental club called the WOLVES. That year she recruited volunteers to restore a seven-acre piece of weedy, overgrown land on the school's property.
After restoration, the school was interested in establishing citizen science projects on the site as well as making an educational experience for visitors.
At this time Julia was accepted into Open Land Projects Center for Conservation Leadership and was interested in completing an environmental service project in her community. Working with the new preserve seemed like a natural extension of her previous work, since she wanted to give students the opportunities she'd had to learn about our natural surroundings.
As a result of meeting with a science teacher who was a team leader for the new preserve, Julia decided to create trail signs for the property as her community service project. Instead of regular trail signs she wanted to create interactive signs that could be constantly updated as well as signs that could combine the school's focus on technology and environmental science.
After investigating options, she decided to create 6 individual signs that were simply QR codes. These codes could be read by smart phones and would link users to distinct information on the area of the trail that they were visiting. She could put more information into the code than would fit on a trail sign. She could also give visitors smart links to other information such as frog calls or photos. In addition, the school could continue to update the codes in future years as the restoration progressed or information on the site changed.
The property was dedicated in 2013 and the trail signs were introduced to the community at that time.
Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators
Each year, EPA's Environmental Education Program awards grants to state agencies, non-profit groups, schools and universities, and tribal organizations to support environmental education (EE) programs and projects.