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Teacher Mike Todd from Ames, Iowa, to Receive Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

Release Date: 05/07/2013
Contact Information: Denise Morrison, 913-551-7402,

Environmental News


(Lenexa, Kan., May 7, 2013) - Mike Todd, a teacher from Ames High School in Ames, Iowa, has been named the recipient of a 2013 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, EPA Region 7 announced today.

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a learning context for their students. Up to two teachers from each of EPA’s 10 regions were selected to receive this award. The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), in partnership with EPA, administers this award to honor educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms and teaching methods.

Todd has been the only environmental science teacher at Ames High School for three years. He has revamped the course each of those years to make it more motivating and interesting for students and to engage them in more meaningful community projects. Todd has created collaborations with scientists and environmental professionals to assist students in their environmental impact projects. He has received over $20,000 in grants to fund community projects.

Todd uses community-based environmental impact projects early in the school year to motivate students. Those project topics have included flooding, storm water, sustainable food systems, prairie reconstruction, the Ames High Prairie remnant, organizing a cafeteria waste composting day and creating an organic school garden.

Todd has spent hundreds of hours learning about the techniques that scientists and environmental professionals use to study these issues. He has worked with several divisions of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to learn a variety of wildlife monitoring and management techniques. Students have worked with IDNR on a water quality project. The students monitored the water quality of a pond using chemical and physical tests; they studied macroinvertebrate populations, observed the algae that inhabited the pond, conducted IDNR vegetation surveys and analyzed the watershed of the pond with the help of the IDNR fisheries division.

The students collaborated with IDNR staff to use data to assess and improve the health of the pond. Todd advised the students throughout their projects, required them to collaborate with community professionals as the projects were implemented, and directed them to write grants to obtain funding, all of which allowed students to engage more closely with the wider community.

Todd’s students participate in learning through activities, field trips, discussions and community projects. Todd’s students gain confidence in environmental science class and go on to take more advanced science classes such as chemistry and physics. He inspires students to go on to college and major in environmental science.

Todd’s students develop a deeper understanding of environmental concepts by making connections between environmental science concepts and other aspects of life and learning. He focuses on helping students develop writing and reading skills and preparing them for a chemistry class. He encourages students to relate environmental impact projects to their personal and career interests, and to collaborate with professionals in these fields to develop relevant skills, experiences and professional contacts for future use.

Todd, like all other recipients of the 2013 Presidential Innovation Awards for Environmental Educators, will receive a commemorative plaque and $2,000 to be used to further his professional development in environmental education. Each recipient’s school or local education agency also receives $2,000 to fund environmental educational activities and programs.

Applications for the 2014 Presidential Innovation Awards for Environmental Educators are due by January 31, 2014. For more information about the award program, contact Jennifer Bowman at

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