An official website of the United States government.

News Releases from Headquarters

EPA Honors Environmental Educators and Students

Contact Information: 
Press Office (

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is pleased to announce the winners of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). EPA will honor these outstanding educators, along with winners of the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA), at a series of events in Washington, D.C. today. From across the country, 12 educators and 81 students are being recognized for their exceptional contributions to environmental education and stewardship.  

Today’s events feature speakers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Toyota’s North American Environmental Sustainability Programs and the North American Association for Environmental Educators.

“Through their work, these impressive educators and students demonstrate how community partnerships — between schools, business and government — can build and sustain environmental change,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Together, EPA and our partners are working to improve environmental literacy across the nation.”

“The educators being honored today provide the foundation from which the next generation of environmental leaders will grow,” said acting NOAA Administrator Ben Friedman. “It is also heartening to recognize the achievements of the student winners, who will undoubtedly unleash more innovation in the future and serve as role models to their peers.”

The PIAEE awards recognize innovative educators who bring environmental education into their classrooms through hands-on, experiential approaches. Winning teachers led unique projects such as Student Watershed Awareness Taskforce, a school farmers’ market and food sharing program, interactive blogs for students to connect with scientists and other professionals, campus-wide recycling programs, and outdoor learning areas.

The 2017 PIAEE Winners are:

  • Laura Poidomani, Saxe Middle School, New Canaan, Connecticut
  • Daniel Delcher, Essex County Vocational Technical School, West Caldwell, New Jersey
  • Mary Ann Settlemyre, Holland Township School, Centreville, New Jersey
  • Brian Soash, Lee County Middle School West, Leesburg, Georgia
  • Donna Gradel, Broken Arrow High School, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma
  • John Wood, Samuel E. Talbert Middle School, Huntington Beach, California

The 2017 PIAEE Honorable Mention Recipients are:

  • Stephanie Bacskai, Holland Township School, Milford, New Jersey
  • Joseph Bentz, Albert M. Greenfield Elementary School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Annette Simpson, Keheley Elementary School, Marietta, Georgia
  • Amy Schwartz, Edison Middle School, Wheaton, Illinois
  • Trevor Hance, Laurel Mountain Elementary School, Austin, Texas
  • Shelley Glen Lee, High Tech Elementary North County, San Marcos, California

The PEYA awards recognize outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth. The 15 winning student projects, announced in June 2017, featured activities such as developing low-cost biodegradable plastic using pumpkins; designing an efficient, environmentally friendly mosquito trap; and collecting and repurposing more than 25,000 books in six months.

[Insert PEYA winners here]

For details on the 2017 PIAEE winners, visit

For details on the 2017 PEYA winners, visit

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit