2019 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality revealed the winners of the prestigious Texas Environmental Excellence Awards on March 1. Governor Greg Abbott and TCEQ commissioners jointly selected the 10 winners – based on recommendations from a Blue-Ribbon Committee – in nine categories.
The 27th annual edition of these awards include efforts to use less water or energy, to educate the public about natural resources, and to reduce pollution.
“I am proud to announce this year’s winners,” says TCEQ Chairman Jon Niermann. “Not only are they innovative, but each one demonstrates a commitment to our state’s environment that should inspire all Texans to follow their lead.”
Here are the TEEA categories and the honorees for each:
Pollution Prevention: Huntsman Petrochemical LLC – TF5 Organic Waste Minimization and Commercialization.
Huntsman’s winning project serves as a model for other companies by showing that waste streams can be reduced or even eliminated by investigating the upstream sources.
Education: EcoRise – The Texas Sustainability Education Project is an innovative curriculum that mobilizes students to action, encouraging them to develop solutions like conserving water or reducing energy on their school campus. In addition to the curriculum designed by EcoRise, the schools that participate have access to teacher training and support, an online platform, business and environmental industry connections, and micro-grants for students.
Civic/Community: The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment – The Texas Stream Team raises awareness and develops environmental stewards in volunteers. In addition, the data collected by this team is incredibly valuable. It is recorded online for regional leaders and advocates to get a sense of their local water quality, and when necessary, allows them to develop remediation strategies and conservation efforts.
Environmental Educator of the Year: Candace Printz, Art Instructor at El Dorado High School, El Paso. Seeing trash piling up in the El Paso Desert, Printz and her students decided to take action. Students collected debris, turned it into artwork and, through their art, educated the public on how much pollution there was in their community. Through cleanups, art shows and presentations to the public, they have been able to change their environment and spark environmental stewardship in their community.
Environmental Educator of the Year: Linda Dunn, education manager at the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center, Seagoville. At the Wetland Center, Dunn created an immersive hands-on programming related to wetland ecology, water conservation and wildlife conservation. Each program is designed to engage children in different grades and age groups.
For the elementary students, Dunn created games to teach about the water cycle and vocabulary related to the environment and wildlife. Older students have science and math intensive lessons, including field studies in the wetland.
Dunn curates her lessons based on the group she is teaching at the time.
Innovative Operations/Management: BAE Systems, Inc. – At ABC Every Day Is Earth Day. BAE has taken steps to make their Austin campus more environmentally friendly, including eliminating invasive plants to restore native species, reducing potable water use, establishing pollinator habitats, hosting relocated honey bees and increasing recycling efforts.
Technical/Technology: City of Lago Vista – Ground Storage Tank and Trihalomethane Removal Project. The city reduced the need to flush out their ground storage tanks by installing a unique, innovative system to remove Trihalomethanes that formed in the water system. They did so by infusing HDPE pipe mixers in the tanks that eliminated the gaseous Trihalomethanes with splash pumps.
Youth: Texas 4-H Youth Development – Water Ambassadors Program. The Texas 4-H Water Ambassadors Program provides high schoolers with the opportunity to gain advanced knowledge and practice leadership skills involving science, technology, engineering and management of water in Texas.
Agriculture: Texas Native Seeds Program, Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute, Texas A&M University-Kingsville – Research and Development Program. This statewide initiative develops native seed sources, conducts research, and enables agencies, industries and the public to restore native habitats. The team works to collect native seeds and conduct science-based process to select the ecotypes of those plants best suited for restoration as well as the best restoration methodology for common scenarios.
Water Conservation: Texas A&M University, Texas AgriLife Research – BVwatersmart. BVwatersmart created six programs including weather stations and a website, personalized weekly watering notifications, residential water budgets, free residential irrigation system inspections, water conservation seminars and public service announcements. Each program focuses on a different part of outdoor water usage and educates the community on ways to conserve.
TEEA winners will be recognized at a banquet on May 15 as part of the TCEQ’s Environmental Trade Fair and Conference at the Austin Convention Center.