2015 Maine Environmental Education Association Awards

 

MEEA presented the annual awards recognizing this year's most outstanding environmental educator, school, business, student and environmental program in the state of Maine at his year’s conference, “Better Together Maine: Partnerships, Collaboration, Collective Impact,, is the state's key gathering of environmental educators, featuring presenters and participants from conservation organization staff, health advocates, business leaders, governmental agencies, outdoor recreation groups and the agriculture.

This year's winners are:

•    Northern Girl:  The Maine Environmental Education Association Business of Year
•    The Lebanon Elementary Schools:  The Maine Environmental Education Association School of the Year
•    The Blueberry Harvest School: The Excellence in Environmental Education Program Award
•    Don Sprangers: Eberhard Thiele Environmental Educator of the Year
•    Amber Delaney: The Maine Environmental Education Association Student of the Year
•    Pat Maloney: The Maine Environmental Education Association Lifetime Achievement Award

Northern Girl, the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association Business of Year award, is being recognized for its commitment to selling and distributing sustainably grown and harvested local food from Northern Maine to locations all around New England.  Northern Girl has shown ingenuity in working to keep Maine at the forefront of the local foods movement by rebuilding Northern Maine's lost food processing infrastructure.  In addition, Northern Girl is committed to providing high-quality locally grown, healthy food to many Maine schools and universities.  This small, community minded business started by two sisters is now a thriving operation and  provides jobs for over 20 people in Northern Maine. 

The Lebanon Elementary Schools (Hanson Elementary and Lebanon Elementary School), of Lebanon, Maine, the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association School of the Year Award, are being recognized for their efforts to improve the sustainability of their schools, create critical thinkers through hands-on nature-based learning, and increase their capacity for high quality programming for all students.  One element of their efforts is a collaborative public-private partnership with The Ecology School of Saco, Maine, where experiential learning is a core tenet of teaching and learning.  The Lebanon Schools value environmental literacy – where an understanding of systems, cycles, and our environmental impact is considered as important as proficiency in math, reading, writing and other traditional subjects.  Through dedicated staff, students and community efforts, they have accomplished much toward becoming a model expeditionary learning based Green School.

The Blueberry Harvest School, the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association Excellence in Environmental Education Program Award, is being recognized for so aptly upholding its mission to provide a three-week, hands-on, and interdisciplinary educational program for the children of migrant workers in Washington County for Maine's wild blueberry harvest. The program is sponsored by the Maine Migrant Education Program and funded by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind). Mano en Mano / Hand in Hand, a non-profit organization based in Milbridge, has run the BHS since 2013. The BHS utilizes a Project-Based Learning model that relies extensively on environmental education themes and blends math, reading, science, and social studies together in a way that engages and empowers students. 

The culturally-responsive themes and techniques utilized by the BHS help students foster a love of learning and the program's experiential format develops students' appreciation of the natural environment while preventing summer learning loss. Students who attend the school are from "eastern stream" states such as Florida, Mississippi, and Texas, as well as the Passmaquoddy and Mi'kmaq Nations.

Don Sprangers, science teacher at Washington Academy in East Machias Maine is MEEA's 2013 Eberhard Thiele Environmental Educator of the Year award.  Don, a nationally award winning science educator is being recognized for his incredible contributions to furthering environmental education in Maine and New England. Don has dedicated his career to promoting the importance of ecological literacy and experiential, place-based learning.  His students participate actively in their learning, grappling with and tackling major environmental issues head on-not simply learning about the issues but also creating solutions and employing those solutions in their schools and local communities.  Don has written and shared his ecological curriculum with many teachers in Maine and around the country and is an adjunct professor for Lesley University, where he inspires and touches the lives of many young teachers in New England.  Don has won numerous teaching awards and is also being recognized this year by National Project Learning Tree as an honoree Educator of the Year. Don's contributions to the field of environmental education are numerous and will be enduring. 

Amber Delaney, a junior at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay, Maine will be honored as the Maine Environmental Education Association's 2015 Student of the Year.  Amber is an incredible student leader who has exhibited a commitment to the environment and a love of learning about ecological concepts.  Amber is a member of the Spruce Mountain Envirothon Team and has a genuine passion for learning about the environment protecting natural resources, and protecting public health from environmental contamination and degradation.  Amber has worked with members of the Androscoggin Land Trust to research the creation and development of the Androscoggin Greenway and developed a management plan for the French Falls recreation area, a section of the greenway.  Amber is taking A.P. Environmental Science and is involved with her school’s geodesic greenhouse, helping plan and construct a handicap access ramp and helping to raise organic produce that has been donated to local food pantries.  Amber has assisted in collecting water quality data from Moosehill Pond; her data was used by the Livermore Falls Water District and the Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program to help protect this source water body for our drinking water.  She has served as an officer in Science Explorer Post #897 (a co-ed program affiliated with Boy Scouts America) and has helped plan trips to Acadia National Park with the Post to explore its unique geology, flora, and fauna.  Amber is involved with the development and maintenance of recreational trails in the Jay Recreation Area, a 180-Acre municipal forest that abuts the school property.  Amber is an incredible example of a Maine next-generation nature leader and is planning on continuing her studies in college in environmental engineering.