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DR. SHARON WALKER WINS FIRST PLACE GULF GUARDIAN AWARD

It's Time Graphic
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 3, 2002

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss.
The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that Dr. Sharon Walker will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2002 in the Individual Category for her efforts with Project Marine Discovery. The award will be presented to Dr. Walker at the Clean Gulf Conference scheduled for Nov. 5-7, in Galveston, Texas.

Three years ago the Gulf of Mexico Program developed the Gulf Guardian awards as a method of recognizing and honoring the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. Award entries were received from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in six categories individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, and partnership efforts.

The Gulf Guardian Awards take on special significance in 2002 as we celebrate 30 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act, said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. The efforts of those being recognized as Gulf Guardians are key to our success as we address water issues. These award winners accepted the challenge and have joined us as we restore and protect our nation's waters for future generations."

I am honored and humbled to receive a Gulf Guardian Award! said Dr. Walker. The oceans serve as an unparalleled medium from which to excite and engage people of all ages about our water planet. When we study the Gulf of Mexico and become more aware that it is America's Sea, we all benefit. As we increase our knowledge of these fragile areas, as well as our interconnectedness to the Gulf of Mexico and the world's oceans and their respective watersheds, we become better environmental stewards and more empowered to make responsible decisions.

Dr. Walker was instrumental in developing the Project Marine Discovery Program for the purpose of providing students, teachers, and community members with opportunities to learn about the Gulf of Mexico and other marine and aquatic environments. Since 1987, 11 formal and informal programs for teachers, adults, and youth have been implemented. These programs were developed based on public interest and needs. Renew America, a national coalition that promotes environmental initiatives, named the Project Marine Discovery Program as its 1993 National Environmental Achievement Award winner. Dr. Walker continues to oversee and direct this very successful program.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office Director Jim Giattina said, The Gulf Guardian Award exemplifies what the Gulf of Mexico Program is all about innovative solutions that come about when we pool resources and look for creative ways to positively impact our quality of life and economic well-being. We are all one Gulf community and have only one Gulf of Mexico. Projects like these are helping to protect our local coastal waters, which significantly contributes to the Gulf's beauty and value, said Giattina.

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2002, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button on the left.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Editor's Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159. For more information about Project Marine Discovery, call Dr. Sharon Walker at 228-374-5550.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
228-688-3726
FAX: 228-688-2709


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