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2011 Gulf Guardian Winners

Gulf Guardian Award

3rd Place - Busineses
Volkert, Inc., Little Bay Finfish and Shellfish Recovery

Contacts: Skeeter McClure and Buddy Covington
(251) 342-1070; email: envir@volkert.com

3rd Place Business Volkert, Inc., Little Bay Finfish and Shellfish Recovery. Patti Powell, Stan Meiburg, Buddy Covington, and Carl Ferraro

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In 2005, Hurricane Katrina’s waves and storm surge crossed the Mississippi Sound as far north as Little Bay, just west of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. The hurricane eroded and breached a small peninsula south of Little Bay that protected sea grasses, oyster reefs, and extensive salt marsh habitat to the north. Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources developed the Finfish and Shellfish Nursery Habitat Restoration Program to identify and implement coastal restoration techniques. Volkert was assigned the Little Bay Project in 2008. Volkert provided their client and partner, turn-key services including planning, design, permitting, bidding, and construction management. As the largest coastal restoration project in Alabama, it presented major challenges of no land access, shallow bottom, and high energy wave conditions. State-of-the-art engineering technology, site-specific adaptation, and ingenuity were used to achieve the goals. Development of a Wave Attenuation Devise permeable segmented breakwater was an essential task in the overall project success. The WADs provided a solution that could be installed from barges in a high energy environment. They were designed to remain stable during a storm surge and provide sufficient wave calming effects. As constructed, the breakwater allows for biological and hydrological exchange with Mississippi Sound. This exceptional project not only corrects serious ongoing environmental degradation, but also demonstrates how engineered structures can provide habitat protection and creation for the overall good of the environment. The Little Bay Finfish and Shellfish Recovery project serves as a model for similar type restoration and protection projects.

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3rd Place - Youth Environmental Education
Conservation through Education and Inspiration, The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station

Contact: Charlene Mauro (mauroc@mail.santarosa.k12.fl.us); phone: (850) 936-6080
Christina Wagner (FeButerfly@aol.com); phone: (772) 801-9330

3rd Place Youth Environmental Education Conservation through Education and Inspiration, The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. Becky Prado, Navarre Beach Marine Science Station Students and sponsor Charlene Mauro, Stan Meiburg

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The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station is a project that involves local high school students as well as community leaders, families, and tourists. In late 2008, the local high school marine science students held a town hall meeting for the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners and their School Board about converting an empty, unoccupied ranger station into an environmental center. The High School students succeeded in obtaining the site in March 2009. Over 2,000 community service hours later, the students, under faculty supervision, created what is now the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station. Since its official opening in August 2009, the Station has been host to well over 4,000 students and community members for programs concerning the local marine environments. The programs provide hands-on, feet-wet activities that educate and challenge participants of all ages on how to be stewards of our marine environment. The Science Station is student created and student driven. They share their love of the marine environment with younger generations, and ignite a spark of excitement for learning more. The Navarre Beach Marine Science Station empowers high school students with the skills and knowledge to teach future generations about the importance of our marine and near-shore habitats. The many projects the students complete, from nesting sea turtle awareness signs to the beach clean-ups and habitat restoration efforts, create a positive and healthy environment for locals and tourists alike to both learn from, and enjoy. The Navarre Beach Science Station program continues to expand involving two local high schools with duel-enrolled students, over-nights, summer camp, and public programs.

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3rd Place - Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity
Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health

Contact: Barbara Nonas (Barbara@gulfcoastfund.org)
LaTosha Brown; phone: (504) 522-2423

3rd Place Environmental Justice Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health. Jerome Zeringue, Elodia Blanco, Latosha Brown, Bill Honker

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The Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health is a community-led philanthropy founded in September 2005 in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It works to galvanize resources and support Gulf Coast communities and grassroots organizations to build a just and sustainable future for the region. The Gulf Coast Fund has distributed grants to over 200 community and grassroots organizations, and is the only philanthropic initiative in the region run collaboratively with Gulf Coast communities. At its core is a community Advisory Group consisting of leading advocates, experts, and grassroots organizers from across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. These Advisors play a central role in forming the Fund’s priorities and policies and in directing the Fund’s resources.

The Gulf Coast Fund is dedicated to empowering the historically disenfranchised communities in the region and creating a civil society infrastructure that can work collaboratively and strategically for social change and community betterment. In addition to grant support, the Fund provides opportunities for grantees to forge networks, make new connections, strengthen relationships, and increase the capacity and effectiveness of community organizations.

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3rd Place - Civic/Nonprofit Organization
Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK), The University of Texas Marine Science Institute

Contact: Anthony (Tony) Amos (afamos@mail.utexas.edu);
phone: (361) 749-6793

3rd Place Civic/Nonprofit Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK),  The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. Becky Walker, Tony Amos, Buddy Covington, and Bill Honker

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The Animal Rehabilitation Keep (ARK)’s mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release injured and sick wildlife in the Coastal Bend of Texas. ARK has rescued numerous marine animals, especially sea turtles and large aquatic birds and has educated the public on the hazards of confronting these animals and the human actions and coastal changes that affect their natural habitat. ARK is operated largely by volunteers, utilities supplied by the University of Texas’ Marine Science Institute, and donations from the general public. The ARK is the only entity of its kind in the area that rescues animals of all types from baby sparrows to 200-lb sea turtles. Since the early 1980’s, the ARK has admitted thousands of birds and sea turtles, hundreds of terrestrial turtles, tortoises, and small mammals and dozens of marine mammals. They maintain detailed records of the animals treated as well as those found deceased. ARK tags all of their turtles with pit tags on release and some with satellite tags and have tracked some turtles for as long as 550 days. Some of the birds are banded with official USFWS bands. ARK volunteers are trained to do daily sea turtle nesting patrols during the nesting season. ARK has made a significant impact to the environment by helping to preserve the survival of important native Gulf species and endangered Gulf species by their rescue efforts. They release those that would not have survived back to the wild and help to maintain and increase populations of important marine species.

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3rd Place - Individual
Freeport, Texas, Texas Artificial Reef Program

Contact: Jim Morrison (swimbum8@yahoo.com)
Phone:  (979)-233-4915 

3rd Individual Jim Morrison – Freeport, Texas, Texas Artificial Reef Program. Becky Walker, Jim Morrison, Bill Honker

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The State of Texas Artificial Reef Program and its successful public/private partnerships simply would not exist without the Twenty-Five year effort and continuing dedication of Jim Morrison. To date, his efforts have resulted in over Thirteen Million Dollars of donations to the Texas Artificial Reef Program, and created acres of offshore underwater habitat. Mr. Morrison was instrumental in  the passing of the Texas Artificial Reef Bill  in 1989, creating the additional funding needed to accomplish a world class Artificial Reef Program.   The full impact of these Artificial Reef sites hasn’t been fully appreciated, except for the divers and fisherman who have benefited from these enhancements to the environment.  One species, the Red Snapper, has been monitored over the course of the program and has increased in population according to the Marine Fisheries Program. These vital underwater reefs will be studied by Universities as well as Divers from Texas and around the world and will be enjoyed by future generations of fisherman and undersea explorers. Mr. Morrison believes that the best way to understand the Gulf of Mexico and its inhabitants is to personally fish or dive offshore Texas and enjoy witnessing the environment today. He says that more needs to be done to promote this undersea world to schools, the general public and the world.

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3rd Place - Partnership
Integration of and Regional Enhancements to the GCOOS: Development of a GCOOS Data Portal, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System - Regional Association

Contacts: Ann E. Jochens (ajochens@tamu.edu), GCOOS Regional Coordinator and Chris Simoniello (simo@marine.usf.edu); Phone: (979) 845-6714 and (727) 322-1318

3rd Partnership Integration of and Regional Enhancements to the GCOOS: Development of a GCOOS Data Portal,  Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System - Regional Association. Becky Walker, Ann Jochens, Matt Howard, Chris Simoniello, Mike Dardeau, Stephan Howard, Chunyan Li,  Bill Honker

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The GCOOS Data Portal Project was developed from 2008 through 2010 by the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System—Regional Association. The purpose was to aggregate near real-time oceanographic data from ten non-federal data providers distributed around the Gulf.

Because providers maintain data and products using different names, protocols and archival schema, the challenge was to interface these data and products via an automated system.

The GCOOS Data Portal Project spans the entire U.S. Gulf coast and engages people from academia, state and local government, NGO’s, and the private sector. The overarching accomplishment is that the portal has been maintained at a fully operational level, and has provided stakeholders improved access to data streams, information on the status of observing systems, and many public products. The Data Portal, a key component of centralized data management, includes oceanographic and meteorological conditions, bathymetry, dissolved oxygen, dissolved nutrients, turbidity, and chlorophyll. This system is being utilized by numerous stakeholders to incorporate important data and information into their research, monitoring, and resource management efforts.

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2nd Place - Business
Renew Our Rivers Conservation Program, Mississippi Power

Contacts: Tracy Heggins – Renew Our Rivers Co-Coordinator/Corporate Information Coordinator and
Flinda Hill (frhill@southernco.com); Phone: (228) 897-6402

2nd Place Business Renew Our Rivers Conservation Program, Mississippi Power. Trudy Fisher, Stan Meiburg, Tracy Heggins, Janell Nolan, Allison Smith, Ali Legget, Flinda Hill and Allen Reaves

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Mississippi Power’s Renew Our Rivers Program is a conservation-based partnership of businesses, agencies and community groups dedicated to the removal of litter from Southeast Mississippi waterways. In 2010, the focus of the program was to increase the level of partnership, participation and commitment, while at the same time maintain Mississippi Power’s own flagship cleanup events and educational efforts. In addition to its annual multi-day cleanup event the Steering Committee set out to establish the first community-led Renew Our Rivers cleanup effort. By empowering and assisting communities and other business groups to create their own cleanup efforts, Mississippi Power successfully created a model for reaching the ultimate goal of cleaning more waterways and leaving scenic streams and rivers even more pristine. On Earth Day in 2010, employees of Beau Rivage and Hard Rock Casinos and partner volunteers cleaned “their little corner of the Earth” on Deer Island in the Mississippi Sound. After several months of planning and mentoring from Mississippi Power, the Beau Rivage and Hard Rock Renew Our Rivers coordinators led a group of employee volunteers, who covered 4-miles of shores from the west end into the mid-interior of the island, removing more than 1.5 tons of debris. Of the 560+ volunteers last year, almost 70 percent represented community and business partner volunteers.

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2nd Place - Youth Environmental Education
(TIE between River Stewards - Lower Colorado River Authority, Matagorda Bay Natural Science Center and Future Leaders of America’s Gulf (FLAG))

River Stewards - Lower Colorado River Authority, Matagorda Bay Natural Science Center

Contacts: Betsy Terrel (betsy.terrel@lcra.org) and Carolyn Nelson (Carolyn.nelson@lcra.org)
Phone: (979) 863-2603 Ext. 4779

2nd Youth Environmental Education (TIE  between  River Stewards - Lower Colorado River Authority, Matagorda Bay Natural Science Center and Future Leaders of America’s Gulf (FLAG)).

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The Lower Colorado River Authority, Matagorda Bay Natural Science Center opened in 2006 with Tier I of the River Stewards Project. This Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills aligned project worked with over 300 middle school students from the Bay City Texas area, as they progressed from the 6th to the 8th grade (2006-2009). River Stewards enhanced the students’ knowledge of science, increased coastal awareness, enriched classroom learning and promoted stewardship of all natural resources. These students investigated water quality, marine and freshwater ecosystems, and learned firsthand the importance of conserving and protecting the Gulf’s natural resources The 6th grade curriculum delved into activities that demonstrated that science was a way of learning about the natural world. The 7th grade curriculum had students in the water, experiencing kinetic and potential energy and the relationship between force and motion. They analyzed, compared and contrasted photosynthesis for aquatic and land plants and investigated salt marsh communities. The 8th grade curriculum identified the roles of both human and natural events in altering earth systems related to topics such as climate change, beach processes, and water quality. River Stewards built student connections with the coastal environment and illuminated and enriched science concepts taught in the classroom through hands-on learning opportunities out in the field. River Stewards is ongoing with their Tier II that began in 2010 and will follow students through until 2013!

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Future Leaders of America’s Gulf (FLAG)

Contact: Vincent Cannata (info@laflag.org)
Phone: (985) 855-6598

2nd Place Youth Environmental Education (TIE  between  River Stewards - Lower Colorado River Authority, Matagorda Bay Natural Science Center and Future Leaders of America’s Gulf (FLAG)).

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"Future Leaders of America’s Gulf" (F.L.A.G.) is a non-profit organization formed by high school students focused on educating and informing youth on the plight of the Gulf Coast region. It was formed shortly after the oil spill and is increasingly active today. Louisiana area high school students continually join the effort to become civically involved and learn about the Gulf region that we all call home. As high school students and concerned citizens of America’s Gulf Coast, the mission of F.L.A.G. is to give the youth of the Gulf Coast a voice to express their thoughts and opinions on the decisions being made today that will affect their future tomorrow. F.L.A.G. aims to keep the coastal youth educated and up to date on current events regarding these issues, using social networking and other means that are effective in reaching high school students. This unique group of High School students strives to educate, raise awareness, and influence public opinion (particularly high school students and future leaders) in a non-partisan manner, on issues that will shape the future of the Gulf Coast. They strive to convey to the public the importance of the natural, coastal, and human resources of the Gulf Coast. F.L.A.G. has participated with and presented to the Coastal Caucus of Environmental Legislators, United States Senator Mary Landrieu, Lieutenant Governor Scott Angelle, Governor Bobby Jindal, the Regional Environmental Educators Roundtable held in Dallas, Texas, the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and John Hankinson, the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, an entity established by an Executive Order from the President.

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2nd Place - Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity

Ms. Thu Bui (pronounced Too Bouy)
Contact: Thu Bui; Phone: (337) 828-4100 Ext. 300 or Cell: (337) 251-6662

2nd Place Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity. Jerome Zeringue, Thu Bui, Bill Honker.

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During the days following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill event, there were many people who rose to the occasion to help those people most impacted. Among the thousands of state and federal employees and private sector workers, one Vietnamese lady stands out among the crowd. Thu Bui is a Marine Extension Agent with the LSU AgCenter and LA Sea Grant Program. During the oil spill, she played a vital role in assisting fishermen and especially the Vietnamese fishermen in their efforts to cope with the crisis. Most of the offshore shrimp fleet and a large number of the crab fishermen in that region are Asian-American. Her Vietnamese heritage and her knowledge and experience in the fishing industry enabled Thu to sense the needs of the fishermen and deliver culturally appropriate educational programs. The fishermen in her region depend on word of mouth communication rather than email, Face book or Twitter. That is why Thu spread the word about meetings by visiting the docks and contacting key community leaders. Over 400 commercial fishermen and their families in her region, both Anglo-American and Vietnamese-American alike, were kept informed about the Deepwater Horizon response and recovery issues in a timely, factual and non-biased way. Besides her efforts related to the oil spill, Thu has been involved with safety training programs for fishermen in conjunction with the Texas Health Science Center. She also serves on a U.S. Coast Guard advisory committee dealing with commercial fishing safety and environmental concerns.

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2nd Place - Civic/Nonprofit Organization
Replant South Mississippi, Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain

Contact: Judy Steckler (judyltmcp@aol.com), Executive Director, Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain
Phone: (228) 435-9191

22nd Place Civic/Nonprofit Organization - Replant South Mississippi, Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain. Trudy Fisher, Judy Steckler, Stan Meiburg.

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Urban Forests provide critical habitat for a variety of coastal species including common backyard birds, neotropical migratory birds and shore birds. In addition, Urban forests provide filtration of polluted stormwater runoff, therefore protecting the quality of the water in local bays, streams, rivers and bayous. The Mississippi Forestry Commission estimates that 1.5 million trees were damaged by Hurricane Katrina and a half million were destroyed. The six coastal counties suffered the worst of those losses, especially to large oak and pine trees. In 2006, the Replant South Mississippi program was initiated to restore the tree canopy that once graced the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Each year Replant South Mississippi has worked with local communities to leave a legacy of urban forests by providing fast-growing native trees for public spaces as well as privately owned lands. Beginning in 2006, the Replant program scheduled several tree give-aways each year in various cities of south Mississippi. Each give-away effort is overseen by the local arborists and an army of volunteers is required to pick-up, deliver and implement each “tree give-away day.” Larger trees have been provided to schools in each of the districts in the six coastal counties, to cities and counties for their green spaces and parks, and to various other pubic organizations. The project also includes an education program about the importance of trees and their care and monitors plantings to ensure long term success. To date, over 73,000 native trees have been distributed and planted across the six coastal counties.

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2nd Place - Individual
Jim Gossen, President and CEO of Louisiana Foods, Houston, Texas

Contact: Jim Gossen (jgossen@louisianafoods.com)
Phone: (713) 957-3474

2nd Place Individual Jim Gossen, President and CEO of Louisiana Foods,  Houston, Texas

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Native to Louisiana with Cajun roots, Jim Gossen has been an innovative and tireless leader for the recovery of and improved sustainability of the Gulf’s seafood industry. Working for the industry as President and CEO of Louisiana Foods of Houston, Texas, he has supported the diverse cultural heritage of the seafood industry, promoted sustainable fisheries through innovative marketing, and has been as ambassador for the regions fisherman. Jim has put forward a vision of a healthy environment going hand in hand with productive fisheries. He has been instrumental to the innovative Louisiana Foods Total Catch Program, which promotes the use of the entire catch to reduce wasteful by-catch. This has included a recent effort to market oyster drills, an important predator of oysters that inflicts enormous damage to the oyster fishery. Jim is a founding member of Foodways Texas, an organization that promotes the cultural importance of the Gulf and the food that surrounds that culture. By supporting the diverse cultural heritage of the Gulf seafood industry, Jim has helped educate the public about the importance of the Gulf environment as both an economic engine and a home to diverse cultures. Jim is an Ambassador for the Gulf Region and has been increasing a sense of stewardship amongst the Gulf fishermen, wholesalers, chefs and the general public.

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2nd Place - Partnership
Oil Spill Prevention and Response Partnership
Matagorda County Navigation District No. 1 and Texas General Land Office

Contact: Debbie Morris (dmorris@portofpalacios.com), Port Director
Phone: (361) 972-5556 Cell: (361)-920-6212

2nd Place Partnership Oil Spill Prevention and Response Partnership, Matagorda County Navigation District No. 1 and Texas General Land Office. Becky Walker, Eartha Lee, Dale Smith, and Bill Honker

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A partnership between the Texas General Land Office and Matagorda County Navigation District No. 1 (Port of Palacios) was established in 1998 to reduce the impacts of oily bilge water spilled and dumped in area bays and in the Gulf of Mexico. The Texas General Land Office coordinated the construction of a bilge water reclamation facility at the Port, which along with mobile pump-out trailers, continues to facilitate the safe and efficient removal of oily bilge water, used motor oil and oil filters from Port vessels and businesses. This is a free service offered on the Port. Due to the large number of shrimp boats in the Palacios fleet, the goal of the partnership was to make a significant impact on the amount of oily bilge water and used motor oil making its way into area waters or being disposed of in Gulf waters. TGLO data showed that 35-40% of spills were emanating from fishing vessels and mystery spills. Clean Harbor meetings and exercises are hosted by the Port to ensure all boat owners have at least one opportunity each year to satisfy agency spill response deployment exercise requirements and to receive any updates on the free services offered by the Port. These programs work together with their Clean Harbor program to communicate and foster an appreciation for clean waterways by the community and visitors to Palacios. The success of the partnership can be measured in the 1.2 million gallons of oily bilge water removed from Port vessels, the safe and efficient recycling of 531,000 gallons of used oil and removal of 31,000 oil filters, to date.

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1st Place - Business
Partner for Environmental Progress (PEP)

Contact: Jennifer Denson, Executive Director
Phone:(251) 345-7269

1st Place Business, Partner for Environmental Progress (PEP). Patti Powell, Jennifer Denson, Gary Criscione, and Stan Meiburg.

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In May 2009, as part of its mission to promote a sustainable Alabama Gulf Coast, Partners for Environmental Progress (PEP) launched its By-Product Synergy Central Gulf Coast (BPS CGC) project in Mobile to achieve significant economic benefits for participating companies while simultaneously advancing environmental protections. PEP formed a diverse network of 12 companies to actively seek opportunities to turn one company’s waste or by-product into raw materials for another. BPS CGC creates a system where regional businesses can constantly network ands ystematically review opportunities to reduce their environmental footprint. This type of innovation and collaboration can only help recruit like-minded, environmentally progressive new industry to the Alabama Gulf Coast.

By-Product Synergy is the practice of matching under-valued waste or by-product streams with potential users, helping to create new revenues or savings for the companies involved while simultaneously addressing social and environmental impacts. Synergies are not limited to material flows but can include energy, transportation services and best practices. The synergies uncovered can produce added revenues, new business opportunities, cost-savings and environmental and regulatory benefits to the group and to the region as a whole. While the initial framework was modeled after a process developed by the U.S. Business Council for Sustainable Development, (USBCSD), PEP modified it to accommodate Mobile’s and industrial base. During the height of the economic recession, PEP recruited 12 forward thinking companies, willing to invest time, staff and money into a project with no guarantee of financial return. The environmental impacts of the BPS project, include, but are not limited to; The BPS projects diverted more than 8,200 tons of materials from landfills, wastewater treatment plants and other disposal sites. 5,300 tons of hydrochloric, hydrofluoric and nitric acids are no longer going into waste treatment plants or deep injection wells and more than 8,800 tons of CO2 emissions were avoided. The 12 companies continue to network to share new data, one time material opportunities, best practices and more.

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1st Place - Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity
Florida Department of Environmental Protection: Office of Environmental Education

Contact: Greg Ira (Greg.Ira@dep.state.fl.us). Director of Environmental Education
Phone: (850) 245-2132

1st Place Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity, Florida Department of Environmental Protection:  Office of Environmental Education. Becky Prado, Misty Alderman, Stan Meiburg.

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The Office of Environmental Education (OEE) cultivates and supports environmental citizenship through the Learning in Florida’s Environment (LIFE) Program. Started in 2004, the LIFE program brings middle school students and teachers out to publicly managed conservation lands to learn science, by practicing science. In 2007, the LIFE program increased its efforts to reach underserved and underrepresented populations through a set of practices designed to enhance the cultural competency of program planning, design, and delivery. These projects strive to increase student achievement in science; enhance science instruction and increase the number of underserved/underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. These projects address common barriers to raising cultural diversity: 1) tendency to target high-performing and/or affluent schools; 2) content irrelevant to student/teacher needs and priorities; 3) inadequate attention to student population’s culture and demographics; 4) limited use of program delivery practices designed for culturally diverse audiences; 5) no systematic process for educators to evaluate their cultural competency.

Each of the following projects have adopted tools and best practices for enhancing cultural competency of program design and delivery: School Profile Index for prioritizing high need schools; Scope and Sequence Matrix for aligning project activities with teacher identified goals/needs; Cultural Competency Assessment Tool (CCAT) for educators to evaluate their cultural competency progress; and Best Practices for Cultural Competency in Environmental Education that enhances an educational project’s integration of culture. The focus of these projects on diversity and cultural competency have three indirect benefits for the environment. First, by addressing cultural differences between program providers the students the projects are more likely to be successful and increasing environmental literacy of the participants. Second, by addressing locally relevant issues and using local places, students are more likely to have immediate opportunities to apply their knowledge. Third, serving schools with high percentages of students from groups (African American, Hispanic) underrepresented in STEM fields, we are laying the foundation for a more diversified workforce in the STEM related careers.

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1st Place - Individual
Dr. Bill Walker

1st Place Individual, Dr. Bill Walker. Jerome Zeringue, Bill Walker, Trudy Fisher, Stan Meiburg.

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Dr. William Walker has spent nearly 40 years researching and protecting the resources of the Gulf of Mexico. Growing up in Louisiana and working in Mississippi, Florida and Washington D.C., he exemplifies environmental leadership and stewardship for Mississippi and the entire Gulf of Mexico. A tireless leader, he actively seeks out collaboration from local, state, and federal governance, as well as from industry, academia, NGOs and citizens. Respected throughout the Gulf and across the nation, Dr. Walker has brought this collaborative approach to the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, forming the basis of an ecosystem approach to restoring and sustaining Gulf of Mexico resources and coastal communities. As a resource manager, Dr. Walker has countless accomplishments including the acquisition of 870 acres of coastal wetlands; the restoration of 250 acres of wetlands; the creation of 50 acres of marsh habitat, 1200 acres of oyster habitat, 51 inshore and 16 offshore artificial reefs; the installation of 7 hydrological monitoring stations; the establishment of a national Heritage Area; the implementation of the Clean Marina Program; the planting of over 16,000 trees; and the development of the first comprehensive Gulf report on invasive species.

Dr. Walker has also worked with farmers in the Mississippi Delta and Iowa on nutrient reduction strategies and has helped secure resources for the implementation of best management practices identified in those strategies, thereby reducing nutrient runoff into the Gulf. Recognizing that protecting and improving the Gulf of Mexico can’t be limited to the five U.S. Gulf States, Dr. Walker has built partnerships with the six Mexican Gulf States and, in 2009, and he secured monitoring vessels to support the HABs programs in Campeche and Veracruz, Mexico. Dr. Walker’s professional success is characterized by his commitment to and active engagement with public resource management. His technical and interpersonal skills result in his being extremely effective and highly respected, not only in the Gulf of Mexico region, but across the country. The high regard for Dr. Walker by his peers is reflected in President Obama’s appointing him to the National Ocean Council representing the Gulf of Mexico region.

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1st Place - Youth Environmental Education
Estuary EDventures Initiative – Tampa Bay Watch

Contacts : Catherine Karns (ckarns@tampabaywatch.org)
Phone:(727) 867-8166

1st Youth Environmental Education - Estuary EDventures Initiative – Tampa Bay Watch. Becky Prado, Catherine Karns, Stan Meiburg.

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The Tampa Bay Watch Estuary EDventures initiative focuses on marine education and the restoration of estuarine habitats through field trips with bay area schools, hands-on service-learning projects and summer camp programs. Estuary EDventures is based out of the Tampa Bay Watch Marine Center located adjacent to Shell Key Preserve and Ft. De Soto Park in southern Pinellas County allowing students to explore rich mangrove forests, grass flats and shallow waters teeming with marine life. The program builds environmental literacy and encourages stewardship while educating students about estuarine science and habitat restoration through a combination of classroom curriculum and field experiences. Tampa Bay Watch established the marine education center in 2006 featuring indoor classrooms, an outdoor wetlab, nature trails, touch-tanks and aquariums. Estuary EDventures combines classroom curriculum with kinesthetic environmental field sessions and service-learning projects that facilitate habitat restoration in the Tampa Bay estuary. The goal of the program is to develop the student’s commitment to their local environment by increasing their understanding of the function of the Tampa Bay estuary, its importance in their daily life, its role in their future, human impact on it and opportunities to participate in its restoration.

Tampa Bay Watch has established a solid foundation of curriculum through lesson plans, field programs, lab activities and historical background information that correlate to Florida’s Sunshine State Standards and National Science Standards, these reinforce learning objectives for middle school science and math. By empowering stewardship among future generations, Estuary EDventures contributes to the long term protection of a healthy, vital watershed and sustainable habitats for fish and wildlife resources. Additionally, service learning projects performed by students such as salt marsh plantings and oyster dome and oyster shell bar installation have a direct impact on the improvement of water quality and an increase in habitat diversity of the Tampa Bay.

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1st Place - Civic/NonProfit Organization
Daphne Utilities
Used Cooking Oil Recycling and Biodiesel Programs

Contact: Rob McElroy (rob@daphneutilities.com), P.E. General Manager, - Daphne Utilities
Phone: (251) 626-2628

1st Civic/NonProfit Organization. Patti Powell, Rob McElroy, Danny Lyndall, Stan Meiburg.

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As a water / wastewater utility company and past recipient of the EPA “Award of Excellence”, Daphne Utilities has always been concerned about protecting the drinking water supply and the environment which produces it. A single sewer spill can allow thousands of gallons of contaminated water to streams and rivers which feed into the Gulf, spoil the environment and threaten drinking water sources. Sewer spills are caused by grease blockages in sewer lines from fats, oil and grease which is usually washed off plates or poured down sinks in customers’ homes. While large producers such as restaurants can be monitored to guard against this, thousands of homes cannot be. The only way to effect change, therefore, is to provide an easy and enticing alternative for the disposal of these waste products.

Daphne Utilities began a Used Cooking Oil Recycling Program. Gallon jugs were distributed at more than 20 locations throughout the city of Daphne for customers to pick up. Once filled, these can be returned to recycling stations. By 2006, the Utilities organization was seeing perhaps 100-200 gallons of oil recycled per month which was then sent to a rendering plant. The utility went further and investigated converting this oil into biodiesel fuel and constructed a homemade biodiesel processor inside their wastewater treatment plant. Their first batch of biodiesel was made in late 2006 with good results and they began blending their own fuel to make a B20 blend (80% regular diesel / 20% biodiesel) which they burn in their trucks and heavy equipment. Daphne Utilities recognized that the glycerin byproduct generated by the biodiesel process could be made into homemade soap! The employees added colorful dye and scents to the soap and used molds to shape it into fish and animal forms. These were a huge hit with children and got the attention of their parents as well and quickly became a cornerstone their marketing program. Each piece of homemade soap comes with an informational card urging customers to properly recycle their used cooking oil.

Today, the Used oil donations remain strong and steady, sometimes peaking as high as 400 gallons in a single month. This is clear evidence that more people were donating their used oil instead of pouring it down kitchen drains in the Daphne Alabama area. Their story has crossed the country and utilities in major cities across the US (and even in Australia) and they have started their own programs based upon the Daphne Utilities extraordinary program.

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1st Place - Partnership
Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium: A Collaborative approach to meet water quality targets and support seagrass recovery in Tampa Bay

Contact: Holly Greening (hgreening@tbep.org), Executive Director Tampa Bay Estuary Program
Phone: (727) 893-2765

1st Partnership, Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium:  A Collaborative approach to meet water quality targets and support seagrass recovery in Tampa Bay. Becky Prado, Holly Greening, Jeff Stewart,Tony Janicki, Stan Meiburg.

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The Tampa Bay Nitrogen Management Consortium is the only public-private partnership in the nation that has proactively and voluntarily developed pollution-reduction actions, that have consequently, been approved by regulatory agencies. The Consortium’s collaborative approach to meeting water quality targets is unique in the country in that public and private nitrogen dischargers worked together to define the technical process and nitrogen load limits for each of the 189 point and nonpoint sources within the Tampa Bay watershed. In 1996, the Tampa Bay Estuary Program (TBEP) and its local government and agency partners adopted numeric nutrient loading and water quality targets (management targets) to restore and protect seagrass beds and restore additional environmental conditions in the estuarine bay segments of Tampa Bay. To accomplish these goals, TBEP developed a voluntary, non-regulatory entity called the Nitrogen Management Consortium (Consortium) to collectively reduce nitrogen inputs to the bay. This group includes 40+ public and private entities committed to implementing projects that reduce nitrogen inputs to Tampa Bay.

Currently, there are 250+ projects baywide, including expansions of wastewater treatment facilities to reduce nitrogen inputs to local waterways; retrofitting a power station to reduce nitrogen emissions; implementing agricultural best management practices to reduce fertilizer runoff; and enhancing treatments of process water at phosphate processing plants. These nitrogen reduction projects have resulted in decreased nitrogen loads to Tampa Bay, improved water quality and an increase in seagrass acreage. The establishment of the Nitrogen Management Consortium has provided an opportunity for public and private entities to work together to reduce nutrients into Tampa Bay. The reduction of harmful nutrients into Tampa Bay leads to improved water clarity and quality, which helps foster the growth of seagrass beds. Seagrasses are vital to many organisms in Tampa Bay, such as fish, turtles, and manatees; and serve as an indicator of clean water.  Since 1999, water clarity improvements have allowed seagrass acreage to increase 8,056 acres bay-wide and more than 10,000 acres since the mid-1980s.

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1st Place - Binational (Tie)

Veracruz Aquarium/Red Tide Monitoring

1st Binational (Tie), Becky Walker, Dr. Astin Hinds, Bill Honker.

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The Veracruz Aquarium is the largest in Latin America, with facilities that house nearly 2,200 aquatic animals from around the world and 1,225,000 gallons of fresh and marine water. Since its opening in 1992 the Aquarium's mission has been to enhance appreciation of the aquatic world promoting the conservation of the natural resources with educational programs and research projects. Over one million people visit the facility each year.
During the year 2001 the Aquarium of Veracruz, was directly impacted by a harmful algal bloom called Karenia brevis. The bloom affected the water quality at the facility and also caused a decrease in marine organisms being found in the coral reefs at the Isla de Sacrificios, a Natural Protected Area with National Marine status and one of the eight emergent platform reefs that form part of the Systema Arrecifal Veracruzano, Veracruz Reef System. Because this phenomenon continued to periodically recur in the subsequent years and due to the significance of the problem, the Aquarius of Veracruz implemented a Red Tide Monitoring Program starting in 2004.

The objective of the sampling is to identify the single-celled marine organisms, assess their toxicity, and evaluate them in order to determine the characteristics, seasonal and population dynamics, and other parameters. This information is used to establish and maintain cultures of the bloom-associated species in order to better understand their environmental impacts. As a result, an innovative data collection system, powered weather stations and BreveBusters, optical instruments that detect harmful algal blooms, are now in place and providing real time data.

Contact: Dana Blume (dblume@poha.com), Environmental Affairs Department Manager
Phone: (713) 650-2650

U.S.-Mexico International Demonstration of Fuel-Switching on an Ocean-Going Vessels in the Gulf of Mexico
Port of Houston Authority

1st Place U.S.-Mexico International Demonstration of Fuel-Switching on an Ocean-Going Vessels in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The focus of the project was to test the feasibility and effectiveness of switching fuel from heavy fuel oil (HFO) to marine gas oil (MGO) within 24 nautical miles of the ports, which included PHA and the ports of Progreso, Altamira, and Veracruz, Mexico, as well as Santos, Brazil. Funding was secured through the EPA-OIA totaling $500,000 and PHA contributed $20,000 to fund the incremental cost of switching to lower sulfur fuel.

As this project moved through the developmental stage and hurdles, the EPA sought to raise awareness of the feasibility and environmental benefits of fuel-switching in its upcoming North American Emission Control Area (NA ECA). The NA ECA proposal was established through Annex VI of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL Annex VI), a treaty developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). PHA has long been an advocate of the NA ECA from the IMO; however, one vital component was not addressed at the time of submittal– Mexico. Since this partner was not fully aligned with the NA ECA efforts, the PHA and EPA-OIA determined that Mexico should be the focus of our feasibility study on fuel-switching. The project scope was finalized with fuel-switching activities to occur between the PHA Barbours Cut Container Terminal and the ports of Progreso, Altamira, and Veracruz, Mexico.

In November 2009, Maersk Line conducted the first fuel-switching activity in the Gulf of Mexico within 24 nautical miles (nm) of the Houston Ship Channel and repeated the fuel-switch 24 nm from the Mexico coastline to the Port of Progreso, Mexico. In April 2010, Hamburg Süd Line conducted fuel-switching activities 24 nm from ports in Houston, Altamira, and Veracruz. The University of California Riverside performed emission measurements on board the Hamburg Süd vessel. The project studied the cost effectiveness and operability of fuel-switching to reduce maritime pollution. Benefits were determined through emission monitoring, calculations, and modeling. Dispersion modeling, conducted at the Port of Veracruz, showed improvement on port area air quality and sensitive reefs, (a 99 % reduction of SO2 deposition), due to fuel-switching within 24 nm of the port. From ships alone, modeling showed a seven-fold reduction in SO2 concentrations. The study indicated that local concentrations of particulate matter (PM 2.5) pollution could be reduced as much as 43% to 88% over the entire modeling domain by fuel-switching to MGO.

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Gulf of Mexico Program Office
Mail Code: EPA/GMPO
Stennis Space Center, MS 39529-6000
FAX: 228-688-2709

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