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Turlock, Calif. Teacher Receives Environmental Award For Promoting Environmental Education

Release Date: 08/12/2014
Contact Information: Nahal Mogharabi,, 213-244-1815

LOS ANGELES—Today, Bret Sutterly, a fifth grade teacher at the Walnut Elementary Education Center in Turlock, Calif., received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education (PIAEE) for his contribution to environmental protection. In a ceremony at the White House, teachers and students from across the nation, including San Diego, Turlock and Guam were honored for their work to promote environmental education and stewardship.

The 17 teachers and 60 students awarded nationwide, demonstrate the creativity, innovation, leadership and passion for community engagement needed to face difficult environmental challenges. Teachers and students attending the ceremony will also be participating in a workshop led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss climate and best practices in the field of climate education.

“Through their enthusiasm and commitment, these students and educators are inspiring current and future environmental stewards,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are pleased to honor their work that helps communities and protects the environment.”

Teachers who were received the PIAEE award will also receive $2,500 to further their professional training. In addition, each recipient's school will receive an additional $2,500 to support environmental education programs. This year’s Regional PIAEE winners are:

Bret Sutterly, 5th grade teacher
Walnut Elementary Education Center, Turlock, CA
Projects in Sutterly’s classroom include raising salmon to release into the nearby river, growing wheat to understand agriculture, field trips to the Pacific Ocean to study and record sand crab populations, overseeing a recycling program on campus, and creating Public Service Announcements about the importance of ‘Going Green.’

Melanie Blas, Science Teacher
Simon A. Sanchez High School, Guam
Projects in Blas’ classrooms include having a classroom garden, planting native trees with various state and local agencies while learning about erosion and protecting the coral reefs, teaching younger elementary school students about protecting the environment, and writing to their local senators and representatives about ongoing local issues.

Honorable mention awards were given to Margaret Godschalk, a 5th grade teacher at Kimball Elementary School in National City, CA and David Allen a teacher at Pacific Valley School in Bug Sur, CA.

Student awardees received the EPA’s President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA). This year’s regional PEYA winner is:

“Donate Don’t Dump”
San Diego, Calif.
This campaign was created by local student Gabrielle Posard to get surplus and short-dated food from grocers, growers, and food companies in the San Diego area donated to the hungry instead of being sent to landfills. The organization distributes more than 20,000 pounds of donated food each month to struggling families and seniors and works to promote issues tied to reducing hunger, promoting zero waste and environmental protection. The campaign is now a volunteer run non-profit with 20 chapters and more than 4,000 members and partners in 4 states.

The annual PEYA and PIAEE competitions recognize outstanding student leaders in environmental stewardship and exceptional K-12 teachers employing innovative approaches to environmental education in their schools. These students and teachers creatively utilize their local ecosystems, environment, community and culture as a context for learning.

For details on the new PIAEE and Bartlett Award winners, visit

For details on the new PEYA winners, visit:


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