Governor “proud to recognize” environmental efforts

BOSTON — Local students and teachers were recognized on Monday for “excellence in energy and environmental” education by state officials on Beacon Hill.

Shepherd Hill Regional High School’s Envirothon team received the recognition at the State House from Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. The regional school district’s team was one of 32 programs highlighted at the awards ceremony. Science teacher Justin Sauvageau and math teacher Ray Sullivan lead the district’s Envirothon team, a student group that focuses on area environmental issues. Among the Shepherd Hill students on hand for the ceremony were Ray Hensel, Haylie Ingels, Davone Keovongmanysar, Emily

Angela Cartagirone photo

Novack, and Billy Porter.

“The environmental programs and educators honored today provide hands-on learning opportunities in STEM fields that prepare their students for success,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Our administration is proud to recognize the dedicated Massachusetts teachers and nonprofit educators who go above and beyond what is required to get their students interested in studying energy and the environment.”

“Environmental and energy education programs teach our children important scientific and critical-thinking skills, as well as show them how they can make a difference in their communities and schools,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These extraordinary educators are proactively preparing their students to be our future environmental stewards.”

Winners competed for $5,000 in awards, funded by the Massachusetts Environmental Trust with the intention to fund further environmental education initiatives at the schools. EEA solicited Excellence in Energy and Environmental Education Award nominations in early 2017. Schools and organizations that voluntarily incorporate environmental education into public or private school curricula are given priority.

“The initiatives we are recognizing today range from garden projects and outdoor classroom programs, to watershed and vernal pool projects, to teaching about the environment through art and music,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beaton. “As we face many ongoing environmental challenges, including a changing climate, it is more important than ever that we prioritize environmental literacy and teach the next generation the importance of protecting our natural resources.”

The project applications were scored by the Secretary’s Advisory Group on Energy and Environmental Education, a group of environmental educators from state agencies, non-profits, industry and academia.

Secretary Beaton also recognized the U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools awardees from Massachusetts, Arlington Public School District and Mendon-Upton Regional School District. The award honors schools that are exemplary in reducing environmental impact and costs, improving the health and wellness of students and staff and providing effective environmental and sustainability education, which incorporates STEM, civic skills and green career pathways.

“We are very proud of all the schools that received this award for their work around energy and environmental education,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “Strengthening environmental education in our schools is crucial to our students’ future successes in STEM fields, and our state’s economy.”

Among the additional award recipients were Millbury Junior Senior High School’s Environmental Council Group and Palmer High School’s Environmental Science, Honors Biology & Life Sciences.

“It is wonderful when students have the opportunity to learn about and take an interest in our environment.  Being good stewards of our natural resources is necessary,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer). “I especially thank the teachers and students who are actively engaging and working to increase awareness and importance of green education.”

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