ANNAPOLIS - On Jan. 24 the Chesapeake Bay Trust announced the recipients of its 2013 Annual Awards Program at a ceremony held in the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis. During the event, more than 150 Chesapeake Bay supporters joined members of the Maryland General Assembly to honor six exceptional teachers, students and individuals for their exceptional contributions to environmental education, Bay restoration and citizen stewardship. Launched in 1998, the Chesapeake Bay Trust's Annual Awards Program recognizes six awardees each year for a variety of environmental leadership roles and achievements.
"Each of these exceptional awardees has contributed an incredible amount to advance environmental efforts that are bettering our communities, educating our young people, and restoring our Chesapeake Bay," said Dr. Jana Davis, executive director of the Chesapeake Bay Trust. "We are so honored to be able to recognize our awardees in front of such a distinguished group of legislators, partners and friends while showcasing the incredible work that the Chesapeake Bay Trust and its grantees are able to accomplish each and every year."
This year the trust honored Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin with the Dr. Torrey Brown Award for his exceptional leadership on the Chesapeake Bay's restoration efforts and other environmental issues. The Dr. Torrey Brown Award was created to honor one of the trust's founding board members, Dr. Torrey Brown, who was also a previous secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. In 2007, Griffin was appointed secretary of the department after having held the same position from 1995 to 1999, after having served as the department's deputy secretary for 11 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his post and has worked with the Chesapeake Bay Trust on a number of partnerships, including the Trust's Chesapeake Conservation Corps Program, Living Shorelines Grant Program and Watershed Assistance Grant Program.
The Ellen Fraites Wagner Award was given to Ronald E. Bowen, director of Anne Arundel County's Department of Public Works. This award was created to honor Ellen Fraites Wagner, a former assistant to Governor Harry Hughes and a tireless advocate for the Chesapeake Bay and the environment. This award recognizes an individual who has shown exceptional commitment to the Bay. In addition to his dedication to implement stormwater management techniques and restoration efforts in Anne Arundel County, Bowen founded the Anne Arundel Watershed Stewards Academy and has spent more than 100 hours instructing classes and field trainings for the program.
Emily Meny, a seventh grade teacher at Esperanza Middle School in California, Md., was honored with the Environmental Educator of the Year award for her work to advance environmental education by teaching students both inside and outside of the classroom about their natural world. A "No Child Left Inside" supporter, Meny taught her students the importance of writing legislators about Bay issues; she has installed rain gardens on school property; she is chairman of her school's engineering club and science festival; and she has created lesson plans that include school yard report cards, tree identification, water quality testing and more. Along with her award, Meny will receive a $2,500 grant to be used for environmental projects and programs for her school.
The trust's $5,000 Student of the Year Scholarship was awarded to Danielle Fallon, the first high school student ever to apply and be awarded a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust for her rain garden project at River Hill High School in Clarksville. In addition to her work on this project, Fallon is president of her school's Youth Environmental Coalition, is a member of its National Honor Society and has interned with the Green Building Institute. In college, Fallon plans to study chemical engineering with a focus on sustainable energy and technology.
The trust's $5,000 Arthur Dorman Scholarship, created to honor longtime trust board member the late Senator Arthur Dorman, is presented each year to a Maryland high school or college student who demonstrates a commitment to the environment and, as a student of color, exhibits exemplary leadership in promoting diversity and inclusion in his or her community. This year the award went to Olumayokun Odukale. A student at Morgan State University, Odukale has logged more than 500 volunteer hours in the school's environmental engineering lab working on monitoring highway runoff among many other projects. He is the project leader for his campus' RainWorks Competition and serves as chairman and founder of Morgan State's Ecological and Environmental Engineering and Design Student Council, among his many accomplishments.
The Trust's Melanie Teems Award is given each year to honor exceptional grant work that engages citizens in efforts to improve the environment and the Chesapeake Bay. Melanie Teems was the longest serving member on the trust's staff and is a vocal champion of the organization's grantees. This year the trust recognized the Rosedale Center in Baltimore for their exceptional work above and beyond the call of duty to educate young people about the environment. The Rosedale Center is an alternative middle and high school that seeks to help students learn who might not be able to within a traditional school setting. This school has received more than 20 grants from the trust over its history and engaged hundreds of students through work that is having an impact connecting students to the local environment while teaching job skills and traditional lesson plans.