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EPA Marks the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by Recognizing Environmental Achievers in New York

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

(New York, N.Y.) For twenty-two people and organizations from New York State, 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 York high school student who received 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 7 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 York Environmental Quality Award Winners

Environmental Education
New York Harbor School, Brooklyn
The New York Harbor School combines hands-on experience with a rigorous academic workload. The school has an attendance rate of 88 percent and is the only New York City public school with sailing and rowing teams, and scuba diving and water polo clubs. It is currently located in Bushwick, Brooklyn, but will soon find a new home on Governors Island, enabling students to utilize the lower New York Harbor.

Grassroots Environmental Education, Port Washington
Grassroots Environmental Education developed two programs that empower people to make positive environmental changes in their communities. ChildSafe helps schools implement policies to eliminate school bus idling, prohibit toxic pesticide use on playing fields and encourage the use of safe cleaning products. "How Green Is My Town?" is an environmental assessment program that evaluates towns, schools and businesses on a variety of environmental issues, and allows local leaders and constituents to measure their progress.

Individual Citizen
Susan Hereth
Scenic Hudson, Beacon
Susan Hereth’s inspiring work as Scenic Hudson’s education coordinator has fostered a new generation of environmentally-conscious individuals in her community. She teaches elementary students in Beacon, New York about climate change, air and water pollution, and the loss of biodiversity. She has inspired her students by combining physical education with environmental lessons.

Stephen Ritz
New York City Department of Education, Bronx
Stephen Ritz has mobilized students in the South Bronx to become environmental stewards. He helped students grow over 20,000 pounds of organic vegetables, which they donated to local soup kitchens. Stephen also spearheaded the Walton High School Green Teen Program, which has taken students with an average attendance rate of 40 percent and increased it to 93 percent.

Martha Clarvoe and Mary Ashwood
Otsego County Conservation Association / Otsego County Burn Barrel Education Committee, Schoharie
Martha Clarvoe and Mary Ashwood are grassroots advocates from Otsego County who worked for over 15 years to successfully get the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to adopt a regulation banning the open burning of household garbage. They analyzed EPA data showing dioxin pollution from burning plastics, did extensive public education in their communities and led the way on this state policy.

Sarah Connor
Project Lemon Aid, Northport
Sarah Connor is a 10-year-old whose motto is “we may be small, but together we can make a big difference.” Unlike most children her age, Sarah uses the money she raises from Project Lemon Aid, a lemonade stand, to plant trees in her hometown, the Village of Northport, New York. Project Lemon Aid was one of eight child-operated lemonade stands Inc. magazine chose as “Lemonade Stand of the Week.”

Erin Heaney
Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, Kenmore
Erin Heaney, along with the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, helped bring activities at the Tonawanda Coke Corporation (TCC) to the attention of EPA and elected officials. TCC violated the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Erin’s dedication and professional approach serves as a model for other individuals and organizations.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group
GrowNYC (Formerly the Council on the Environment of New York City), New York, NY
Founded in 1970, GrowNYC has improved the quality of life for city residents through programs that create green markets, promote recycling, provide educational initiatives and plant community gardens. They have fostered 50 of the largest and most successful outdoor farmer’s market programs in the country. GrowNYC also runs Youthmarket, a network of eight urban farm stands operated by local teenagers.

Goodwill Industries of Western New York, Buffalo
Goodwill Industries of Western New York focuses on community-based recycling of clothing, household goods, books, toys and other items. In 2009, Goodwill Industries of Western New York collected and recycled almost 13 million pounds of these goods. They also partnered with Dell Computers on the “Reconnect” program, in which community members drop off old electronic equipment at a Goodwill location, where it is picked up and eventually recycled. The money Goodwill makes is used to support its training and jobs program for people with disabilities or disadvantaging conditions.

Luis Garden Acosta
El Puente, Brooklyn
Luis Garden Acosta is the founder and president of El Puente, a nationally celebrated Brooklyn-based community and youth development organization. El Puente, which means “the bridge,” brings together major initiatives related to health, the environment, education and the arts, and incorporates them into a larger effort. The “Green Light District” is a product of El Puente, and it helped transform the Southside of Williamsburg into a model for community health and wellness.

Karen Joy Miller, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition
Beth Fiteni, Neighborhood Network
Laura Weinberg, Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition
“Prevention is the Cure”, Long Island
Karen Joy Miller is founder and president of the Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Inc. in Huntington, New York. Beth Fiteni is program director for Neighborhoods Network, an organization that advocates environmental responsibility and government accountability across Long Island. Laura Weinberg is president of the Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition and co-chair of the New York State Breast Cancer Network. Together, they worked on “Prevention Is The Cure” campaign, during which they produced “Toxic Trigger Charts,” lists of toxins, their effects, and alternative products and practices.

Prospect Park Alliance, Brooklyn
Prospect Park Alliance is responsible for restoring, developing and operating Prospect Park, a natural escape in the heart of Brooklyn. The Prospect Park Arboriculture Crew cares for 40,000 trees in the park, including almost 150 different species, which make up Brooklyn’s only forest. Last year, the Alliance’s Volunteer Corps led approximately 6,000 volunteers, who totaled over 29,000 hours of community service cleaning and restoring the Park’s natural areas. The Alliance also features the Prospect Park Audubon Center, which served over 70,000 people through public programs and an additional 12,600 students through school programs.

Sustainable South Bronx, Bronx
Since 2001, Sustainable South Bronx (SSBx) has been dedicated to environmental justice solutions that target community needs. SSBx runs the “BEST Eco” program, which trains students for jobs in horticulture, landscaping and bioremediation. Out of the 175 graduates, 82 percent are employed and 15 percent are attending college. This year, SSBx also launched the “BEST building institute” which trains its students to build green buildings.

Seneca Park Zoo Society, Rochester
The Seneca Park Zoo Society hosts several events and programs that promote environmental sustainability. Recent conservation initiatives include events like “Our Fragile World Environmental Fair,” the Environmental Leadership Awards Symposium and “Go Green! Recycle” rallies. The Society also works with its parent organization, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, on numerous conservation efforts, such as the Species Survival Plan and the New York State River Otter Restoration Project.

Non-Profit / Agency Partnership
Fred Schaeffer, Walkway Over the Hudson
Carol Ash, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation
Robert Dyson, The Dyson Foundation
“Walkway Over the Hudson”, Poughkeepsie
Walkway Over the Hudson is an innovative public/private partnership, which led to the transformation of an abandoned rail bridge over the Hudson River into a majestic state park. The park is an economic development draw for Poughkeepsie and Ulster County. The leaders of this project were Fred Schaeffer, chair of the non-profit group Walkway Over the Hudson, Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, and Robert Dyson, President of the Dyson Foundation.

The Partnership for Onondaga Creek
Atlantic States Legal Foundation
The Onondaga Nation
Joanne Mahoney, County Executive, Onondaga County
“Greening Syracuse's Combined Sewer Overflow Long Term Control Plan”, Syracuse
This unique coalition of environmental activists and county government officials worked together to formulate an alterative to the construction of three regional wastewater treatment facilities that were to be built in a thriving downtown Syracuse area. Instead, this coalition presented the idea of underground storage and green infrastructure, which was approved by the Onondaga County Legislature.

Business and Industry
Omar Freilla
Rebuilder’s Source, Bronx
Omar Freilla founded Green Worker Cooperatives, a non-profit organization that helps advance the cause of environmental justice and is dedicated to incubating worker-owned and environmentally friendly cooperatives in the South Bronx. Mr. Freilla launched Rebuilder’s Source under Green Worker Cooperatives to help builders and encourage recycling by supplying surplus and used building materials. It is the first worker-owned, cooperative building materials reuse center in the nation.

Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, Brooklyn
The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation plays a key role in bringing sustainable business and industry to an historic urban setting. The site has been transformed from the nation’s largest ship building facility to a national model for sustainable industrial parks. The Yard is home to several green manufacturers and is currently undertaking two new waste reuse projects, a biodiesel plant and a glass-recycling center.

Green Depot, Brooklyn
Sarah Beatty founded Green Depot in 2005 to make green building products and services more accessible. Green Depot enables builders to utilize green construction practices without having to pay excessive premiums for green products. The company has grown from one location in Brooklyn to a network of stores with an additional 10 distribution centers across the Northeast.

Harley Marine New York, Inc., Staten Island
Harley Marine New York operates in an innovative and environmentally-conscious way. In 2009, it repowered one of its tug boats, the HMS Liberty, with new and cleaner diesel engines. The total annual reduction of emissions from main engines and auxiliary generators are estimated at over 40 tons of nitrogen oxide. Harley Marine New York has implemented an environmental management system program to further reduce its environmental impact.

Federal, State, Local or Tribal Governmental Agency
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
GreenApple Corps, Bronx
The GreenApple Corps engages its members in a variety of work and learning experiences in the environmental field. From 2007 to 2008, GreenApple Corps developed a community garden at P.S. 50 in the Bronx, organized coastal cleanups, installed green roofs throughout the city and reclaimed parts of Prospect Park’s eroding shoreline. GreenApple Corps motivates students throughout the city to launch recycling programs in their schools, and encourages them to compete for the city’s “Gold Apple Award.”

New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
GreenThumb, New York, New York
For 20 years, the New York City GreenThumb program has helped turn vacant lots into green spaces, helping revitalize numerous communities. GreenThumb remains the nation’s largest urban garden program, assisting over 700 neighborhood groups. The majority of its gardens are located in community planning districts that receive federal financial assistance.

2009 President’s Environmental Youth Award

Region 2 Winner
Joshua Rubin
Steps to a More Sustainable School, Syosset
During his freshman year of high school, Josh founded the Student Action For the Environment (SAFE) club at his school, with the initial goal of establishing a recycling program. At first, the city recycling department agreed to pick up the recyclables, but unfortunately this did not last long. Instead, he found a private recycling company that agreed to pick up the school’s recyclables for free. SAFE now collects paper, plastics, aluminum and cardboard, which is collected on a weekly basis. Since solving the recycling problem at his school, Josh has worked to end his school’s use of disposal lunch trays, and has instituted ink cartridge and battery collecting drives.

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