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News Releases from Region 04

North Carolina Student Among Those Honored Today by White House, EPA

Contact Information: 
Davina Marraccini (marraccini.davina@epa.gov)
404-562-8293, 404-562-8400

ATLANTA - Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality together with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the winners and honorable mentions of the annual President's Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) and Presidential Innovation Awards for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). Sharon Chen, a junior from Durham, N.C., was among the 44 students and 27 teachers from across the country who were honored during a ceremony at the White House for outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship.

"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."

Chen was the recipient of a PEYA award for her project, "A Green and Novel Technology for Recovering Copper and Wood from Treated Wood Waste-Part 1." The PEYA awards celebrate student leadership in service projects to protect the environment and build a livable, sustainable global community. The technology Chen developed has the potential to save millions of tons of wood and copper from the landfill-protecting the environment, saving natural resources, and benefitting generations to come. Chen, now a junior at North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, completed the project while she was a sophomore at North Mecklenburg High School.

The other 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
"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

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 Rodrguez, 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

In addition, EPA and the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) announced 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.

Today, EPA also announced 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.

For information on environmental education at EPA, visit: www.epa.gov/education

To view the award ceremony, visit: https://www.whitehouse.gov/live/white-house-environmental-student-and-teacher-awards.

For details on the new PEYA winners, visit: http://www2.epa.gov/education/presidents-environmental-youth-award-peya-winners

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 information on Hands on the Land, visit: www.handsontheland.org

Connect with EPA Region 4 on Facebook: www.facebook.com/eparegion4

And on Twitter: @EPASoutheast