Winners announced from the Green Mountain Environmental Leadership Awards
A celebration took place on Thursday evening, April 17, at the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, where individuals and organizations were recognized for their leadership and contributions to Vermont’s environment.
Twelve finalists from around the state were present at the annual Green Mountain Environmental Leadership Awards hosted by ECHO, AllEarth Renewables and FreePressMedia.
The guests were treated to an inspirational keynote address by Dr. Mary Watzin, Dean and Professor in the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, at the University of Vermont. Her address touched upon the immense importance of citizen science in helping to understand, interpret and learn from our world and environment.
The awards were presented immediately following Dr. Watzin’s remarks, in the following categories and to individuals/organizations:
Categories: Collaboration Award, Citizen Scientist, and Persistence Toward Achieving Results.
And the winners are:
Collaboration Award ~ The Chittenden County Stream: Jim Pease, Dan Albrecht, Jessica Andreoletti, Justin Kenney, and James Jutras for Chittenden County Stream Team and VTDEC Collaboration.
The Stream Team is a way for residents to help reduce phosphorous pollution caused by stormwater in our streams. Jessica Andreoletti, the senior planner for the town of Williston, helped organize the stream team, by bringing together towns and organizations, and obtaining grants. Projects include planting trees along stream banks as a buffer, or getting volunteers to monitor and test stream water for signs of pollution.
Citizen Scientist Award ~ A tie!
Award recipient #1: Rodney Olsen, Diversified Occupations Program of Addison County . For close to two decades, Rodney Olsen, has helped Addison County special education students have the thrill of meeting raptors, Barn Owls and songbirds up close. As part of the Diversified Occupations Program, Olsen teaches math, reading and science through the study of the habits and health of the various bird species. The students capture birds and band them for monitoring, submitting their data to the Federal Bird Banding Lab. The work gives the students confidence, says Olsen. “When a kid catches their first hawk,” Olsen says, “All of a sudden you have everybody’s undivided attention.”
Award recipient #2: Markie Palermo of Essex High School
Nancy Elwess, Professor of Molecular Genetics at State University of New York in Plattsburgh, said 17-year-old Markie Palermo of Essex High School approached her last year questioning the decline of brook trout in Lake Champlain. Markie wanted to study the trout. With help from Professor Elwess, she learned how to run lab equipment, take samples and reach scientific conclusions. The results: Compelling evidence that brown and brook trout were interbreeding with each other and creating a sterile offspring called tiger trout. Markie plans to expand her work this summer to confirm her results and find a more precise ways to test fish DNA.
Persistence Towards Achieving Results Award ~ Elizabeth Courtney, Vermont Natural Resources Council. Elizabeth Courtney has observed some of the most intense environmental battles Vermont has ever seen. She’s also been a large part of collaborative efforts to bridge the gap between environmentalists and others to protect Vermont’s ecology and economy, and its working landscape. She remains active as director of the Legacy Project at the Natural Resources Council. She served many years as executive director of the Vermont Natural Resources Council and as the former chairwoman of the Vermont Environmental Board, which handled appeals of regional decisions under the state’s strong environmental law, Act 250. The trick, Courtney says, is to find ways in which would-be opponents can create opportunities to work together to promote environmental quality and economic growth, which need not be mutually exclusive.
Each winner received a check for $1000 plus a hand blown glass carafe made by Simon Pearce Glass Blowers of Vermont. Each carafe, which symbolizes the natural elements of fire, earth, air and water, was etched with the name of the award and the year it was received.
ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center. 4.17.2012.