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News Releases

News Releases from HeadquartersOffice of the Administrator (AO)

EPA Honors Award-Winning Environmental Education Teachers and Students

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EPA Press Office (

WASHINGTON (September 21, 2018) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the winners of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and the most recent winners of the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). From across the country, 10 educators and 49 students are being recognized for their efforts.

EPA honored these award-winning educators and honorable mention recipients at a series of events in Washington, D.C. today. Through these programs, EPA is honoring the remarkable work of these educators and students in the field of environmental education and stewardship.

The day’s events featured a ceremony with remarks by Matthew Z. Leopold, EPA General Counsel, as well as special guest National Park Service Office of Public Health Director and U.S. Public Health Service Captain Sara B. Newman, DrPH, MCP. Winning teachers and students also presented their work at an afternoon poster session for all attendees as well as EPA leadership.

Students conducted projects including raising international awareness of a threatened bird species and the use of plastics, supporting local waterways, researching new biodegradable plastic, developing a new model for water efficient facilities, creating educational interactive electronic programs on sustainable urban development, and exploring a new economic way to test for lead in water, as well as recycling, composting, and supporting local ecology.


The PIAEE program recognizes innovative educators who bring environmental education into their classrooms through hands-on, experiential approaches. The PEYA program recognizes outstanding environmental projects by K-12 youth, promotes awareness of our nation's natural resources, and encourages positive community involvement.

Teachers are recognized for activities including developing successful preschool, elementary, middle, and high school environmental and outdoor education courses; advising environmental clubs for students and family programs, including activities such as building gardens and compost centers, hosting community service days, starting school waste reduction programs, and exploring energy conservation; leading training workshops and other professional development for peers; teaching about the global impact of agriculture and nutrition; and leading students in responding to recent weather events.

PIAEE Winners:

EPA Region 1

Christine Brothers
Falmouth High School
Falmouth, Massachusetts

EPA Region 4
Timothy Chase
Bluffton High School
Bluffton, South Carolina

EPA Region 5
Anna Dutke
Jeffers Pond Elementary
Prior Lake, Minnesota

EPA Region 7
Morgan Skaith,
Carden Park Elementary School
St. Joseph, Missouri

The following teachers will be recognized as PIAEE honorable mention recipients:

EPA Region 1

Edmund Smith
Two Rivers Magnet Middle School
Andover, Connecticut

EPA Region 2
Rosalina Alvarado
Bernardino Cordero Bernard Vocational High School
Ponce, Puerto Rico

Lynn Hughes
High Bridge Elementary School
High Bridge, New Jersey

EPA Region 5
Sarah Garrett
Jackson Middle School
Champlin, Minnesota

EPA Region 7
Melanie Falcon
Smoky Valley Middle School
Lindsborg, Kansas

EPA Region 9
Sergio de Alba
R.M. Miano Elementary School
Los Banos, California

The PEYA winning projects are:

EPA Region 1:
The Blue Feet Foundation
Team: William and Matthew G.

EPA Region 2:
Worm Tower, Earth Power
by Samuel B.
New Jersey

Water Monitoring for Informed Decisions
by Sonja M.
New Jersey

EPA Region 3:
An Innovative Dual Process Using Pumpkin to Solve Two Global Environmental Crises
by Kaien Y.

Skip the Straw
by Ahman J

EPA Region 4:
Climate Leadership and Outreach: Connecting Air Quality and Renewable Energy
by Emily L
North Carolina

EPA Region 5:
Mayor Leaps to Save Michigan Frogs
by Trinity F

Electronic Recycling Initiative
by Jay M

EPA Region 6:
Save the Place Where We are Living and Save the Plane
by Asvini T

Saving the Hands that Feed Us
by Madhalasa I.

EPA Region 7:
Ecommode Water-reducing Toilet
Team: Oak Ridge LEGO Blasters

EPA Region 8:
Developing a Technology for Water Quality Testing
by Gitanjali R

EPA Region 9:
by Audrey K.

Friends of the LAX Dunes
by Ayanna N.

EPA Region 10:
Make Soil not Smoke by Composting
Team: Mr. Anderson's First Grade Class

Operation Sustain
Team: Operation Sustain

Detailed information on PEYA and PIAEE winners is available at


Matt Leopold, EPA General Counsel, welcomes 2018 Presidential Environmental Education Award Winners to the EPA. Matt Leopold, EPA General Counsel, welcomes 2018 Presidential Environmental Education Award Winners to the EPA.

Acting Administrator Wheeler visits with a student on her water quality testing project.Acting Administrator Wheeler visits with a student on her water quality testing project.

Acting Administrator Wheeler visits with students on their “Make Soil Not Smoke” project. Acting Administrator Wheeler visits with students on their “Make Soil Not Smoke” project.