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EPA Marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by Recognizing Environmental Achievers in New Jersey; Dery Bennett of the American Littoral Society given posthumous award

Release Date: 04/23/2010
Contact Information: Caroline Newton (212) 637-3937,

(New York, N.Y.) For eight people and organizations from New Jersey, the spirit of Earth Day has not diminished in the 40 years since it was first celebrated. In keeping with that spirit, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today awarded them each the Agency’s Environmental Quality Award. These awards, given to those who demonstrate outstanding achievements in protecting the environment, were presented by EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck at an awards ceremony today in New York City. EPA also recognized a New Jersey high school student who received Honorable Mention for the prestigious President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA).

“Today we honor those who advocate for a better environment, and give their time and energy to make the world a healthier and cleaner place,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The people and organizations we honor today are truly making a difference and we thank them for their part in helping us shape a more sustainable environmental future.”

Environmental Quality Award recipients are chosen from the following categories: individual citizen, environmental education, press and media, business and industry, non-profit organization, environmental or community group, and federal, state, local or tribal agency. The recipients come from within Region 2, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, The U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The award winners span a wide range of environmental achievements, but each proves exemplary determination and success. The EPA’s regional office receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside the Agency. For more information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to

EPA’s annual President’s Environmental Youth Award recognizes young environmental stewards who surpass their classmates in understanding the importance of the environment. This national competition is open to students from kindergarten through 12th grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects. Out of the hundreds of competitors, one winner is chosen from each of EPA’s 10 regions and several others are chosen to receive honorable mentions. For more information on the PEYA program, visit

2010 New Jersey Environmental Quality Award Winners

Environmental Education
Rutgers Cooperative Extension Water Resources Program
Stormwater Management in Your Backyard, New Brunswick
Stormwater Management in Your Backyard is a state-wide program that focuses on rain gardens and rain barrels as a way to mitigate stormwater runoff. The program consists of educational workshops that show citizens how these simple ideas can be implemented at home. To date, 18 rain garden lectures and 13 rain barrel lectures have been presented, and approximately 230 rain barrels have been distributed through these workshops.

The Willow School, Gladstone
Students at the Willow School learn valuable lessons about environmental sustainability from hands-on experiences, such as its garden and roof designed to collect rainwater. The National Geographic’s “Green Guide” ranked The Willow School as the nation’s second greenest school for its progressive integration of sustainable design initiatives into the campus and the curriculum, and it was the first educational institution in the country to design and build a structure that received U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification.

Individual Citizen
Derrickson W. "Dery" Bennett (posthumous)
American Littoral Society, Highlands
Dery Bennett was an activist who worked to restore the New Jersey shore environment for over four decades. He was a longtime leader of the Sandy Hook-based American Littoral Society, where he advocated for the coastal environment and helped restore the wetlands on the east side of Cape May. He passed away last December at age 79, and will always be remembered for his dedication to the New Jersey shore.

Mary Lamielle, Voorhees
Mary Lamielle is the founder and president of the National Center for Environmental Health Strategies, a non-profit that protects public health and improves the lives of people affected by chemical and environmental exposures. She initiated the award-winning New Jersey Study of Chemical Sensitivity, and influenced local adoption of a noise ordinance and an integrated pest management resolution for buildings and parks.

Christopher Jage
Rancocas Conservancy, Vincentown
Christopher Jage has significantly increased Rancocas Conservancy’s land holdings through his ability to work with land owners and governmental agencies. He chaired the group’s land acquisition committee and assumed the treasurer’s responsibility at the same time, providing a perfect compliment. Through his efforts, the conservancy’s preservation of 300 acres has grown to over 1,700.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group
Sustainable Cherry Hill
Among Sustainable Cherry Hill’s many accomplishments is helping the township adopt a 10-point Green Action Plan that guides it on incorporating renewable energy, improving conservation efforts and recycling efforts. Since adopting the plan, the township has retrofitted the municipal building with solar panels, and annually works with the community to plant trees. The group holds conferences and workshops to promote future sustainability efforts.

Michelle Doran McBean
Future City, Inc., Elizabeth
Led by CEO Michelle Doran McBean, Future City, Inc. is a non-profit leader in educating diverse communities about sustainable development and environmental issues. The organization focuses on protecting the estuary, quality of life, environmental justice, and land conservancy issues in the Elizabeth area. It has dedicated its efforts to creating leadership opportunities and educating students about the role they can play in preserving the environment in which they live.

Federal, State, Local or Tribal Governmental Agency
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
Clean Shores Program, Trenton
Clean Shores is a program under the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection that removes debris such as wood, garbage, medical waste and recyclables from the tidal shorelines. Since it began in 1989, the program has successfully removed over 126 million pounds of floatable debris and cleaned over 2,300 miles of New Jersey’s shoreline. The program also constructs dune fencing and plants dune grass along several oceanfront communities.

2009 President’s Environmental Youth Award

Region 2 Honorable Mention
Max Kesselman
Max’s Mission 2009 Community Clean Up, Ventnor
Most children want a birthday party that includes balloons, presents and cake. This is not the case for Max Kesselman, who on his eighth birthday, invited his friends to join him in an effort to clean his local park. Together they collected over 20 bags of garbage, and the event proved so successful that Max decided to make it an annual event, and called it Max’s Mission. Max focuses on organizing cleanup events, and encourages his classmates to do the same. He has also created a website ( to provide kids with information on how to help the environment.

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