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It's Time Graphic
July 3, 2002

The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced that the Project CATE Foundation, Inc., will receive a first place Gulf Guardian Award for 2002 in the Youth/Education Category for Ribbit's Big Splash. The award will be presented to representatives of the Foundation at the Clean Gulf Conference scheduled for Nov. 5-7, in Galveston, Texas.

Three years ago the Gulf of Mexico Program developed the Gulf Guardian awards as a method of recognizing and honoring the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. Award entries were received from Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. A first, second, and third place award are given each year in six categories individual, business, youth and education, nonprofit organizations, government, and partnership efforts.

The Gulf Guardian Awards take on special significance in 2002 as we celebrate 30 years since the passage of the Clean Water Act, said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. The efforts of those being recognized as Gulf Guardians are key to our success as we address water issues. These award winners accepted the challenge and have joined us as we restore and protect our nation's waters for future generations."

According to Neil Johnston, an environmental attorney and President of The Project CATE Foundation, and Dr. Brenda Litchfield, professor of Instructional Design and curriculum designer of Ribbit's Big Splash, conservation and coastal resources education are essential for students of all ages, especially younger age groups. Ribbit's Big Splash, the first of a six, CD-ROM series to be developed on resource-specific topics, focuses on water resources and conservation providing students with easily recognizable material that encourages questions, investigations, and individual responsibility.

We are thrilled with the positive response from teachers and students who are using this program to learn about our most valuable resource, said Johnston. One of the most appealing features of this program is that it is free to anyone. This makes it something within reach of all teachers and students and that is important for many schools.

Ribbit's Big Splash is for students ages 8 through 12 and focuses on water -- rivers, ponds, wetlands, and the Gulf of Mexico. Funded by the Project CATE (Conservation Action Through Education) Foundation, Inc., in Mobile, Ala., it presents interactive, decision-making activities for computer, home, and school. The CD-ROM's purpose was to provide an Alabama and Gulf Coast-specific program so students would understand the importance of protecting water resources in their state and along the Gulf Coast, and become cognizant of the effect daily activities have on Gulf of Mexico water quality. The program was completed in 2000 and has been used by more than 38,000 Alabama students at all grade levels, students in other states, and students in several foreign countries.

Gulf of Mexico Program Office Director Jim Giattina said, The Gulf Guardian Award exemplifies what the Gulf of Mexico Program is all about innovative solutions that come about when we pool resources and look for creative ways to positively impact our quality of life and economic well-being. We are all one Gulf community and have only one Gulf of Mexico. Projects like these are helping to protect our local coastal waters, which significantly contributes to the Gulf's beauty and value, said Giattina.

For a list of all the Gulf Guardian Award winners for 2002, visit the Gulf of Mexico Program web site at https://www.epa.gov/gmpo and click on the Gulf Guardian Award button on the left.

The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.

Editor's Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call Terry Hines Smith at 228-688-1159. For more information about the Project CATE Foundation, Inc., and Ribbit's Big Splash, call Neil Johnston at 251-694-6247.

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

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