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Hull Award

Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Fund for Early Environmental Education

The Garden Club of America’s Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award annually recognizes the outstanding achievements of individuals furthering the early environmental education of children. Established in 1992, the Hull Award provides $1,000 to chosen recipients who honor Miss Hull’s common sense approach to environmental awareness by inspiring children under 16 to appreciate the beauty and fragility of our planet.

Administered by the GCA’s Civic Improvement Committee, the Hull Award is open to GCA members and non-members alike; however, individuals may not propose themselves. A woman ahead of her time, Miss Hull (1900 – 1996) was an active member of the Ridgefield Garden Club and credited her mother and grandmother with instilling her own passion for the environment. Members of GCA clubs may propose a candidate.

GCA Medal Winners:

 
Enlarge the photos of winning entries to see more detail: Click on the image and it will pop out. Click outside the full-size image to return to the list of winners.

2022 Winner: Jan Aiels

Jan Aiels served as an educator for 24 years at the Indian Creek Nature Center (ICNC), Iowa’s only nonprofit, independently operated nature center, which opened in 1974. When Jan retired in 2016, the educational programs and field trips she developed served 14,000 children each year.  Amid the utter turmoil brought by the Eastern Iowa flooding in the summer of 2008 -– when 10 square miles of Cedar Rapids was under water, 10,000 residents displaced (including 1,800 elementary students), and Indian Creek itself ravaged the surrounding floodplain -– it seemed impossible that the Nature Center’s scheduled summer camps for kids could take place. But Jan Aiels would not cancel. She insisted that our community’s children desperately needed to be with other kids, experiencing an aspect of nature that wasn’t destructive. So that June, Jan had a big tent erected and the camps went forward! This story is just one of many told by colleagues to give a clear idea of Jan’s dedication to her mission -– and the mission of Nature Center. From her first connection with ICNC as a volunteer and Teacher Naturalist to her role upon retirement as the full-time Director of Education, Jan inspired children and youth to become what the Nature Center now refers to as "champions of nature."

Proposed by: Member of Cedar Rapids Garden Club, Zone XI


2022 Winner: Shaun Ananko

Shaun Ananko is the Director of Agriculture and Education at Grow It Green Morristown. To most people in the community from the youngest to the oldest, he is known as Farmer Shaun. He has dedicated the past 11 years to connecting 1000s of youth in our community to nature through a one acre farm dedicated to experiential education. Getting their hands dirty outside on the farm or learning in the classroom with hands-on crafts, sparks a child’s sense of discovery. The farm opens up conversations about the role of each of us caring for the environment in order to care for ourselves. From topics on butterflies, pollinators, the living soil, growing  seasons, weather, etc. – they all come to life on the farm in exciting ways. On top of that, you may come away with a yummy snack that surprises even you when you taste how good it is after you pull it from the ground. Farmer Shaun knows the key to making farming real for the youth of our community, giving kid’s hands on tasks that leave them wanting to learn more and come back again.

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of Morristown, Zone IV


2022 Winner: Ryan Beeler

Ryan Beeler is an Environmental Systems and AP Environmental Science teacher at Spring Woods High School and a volunteer leader with The Woods Project in Houston, Texas. In the classroom, Ryan makes experiential learning opportunities a priority for his students from underserved communities. After school, on weekends, and during the summer, he creates mentoring relationships and hands-on outdoor learning opportunities as a volunteer for The Woods Project (TWP). After school, Ryan runs The Woods Project Club, which seeks to introduce wilderness, conservation and the outdoors to mostly urban-oriented high school students from low-income backgrounds. In the summer, as a Woods Project trip leader, he creates mentoring relationships with these students and seeks to inspire them with the excitement inherent in outdoor education and adventure. 

In addition to his work with TWP, Ryan also started a Shared Tables club on his campus to help students understand the impact their school’s food waste has on the environment and to provide an opportunity for students to actively engage in finding food waste solutions to improve the community around them. Ryan is someone who always models going above and beyond, and his students rise to the call of this tireless advocate for the planet and for the people who live on it.

Proposed by: Member of River Oaks Garden Club, Zone IX


2022 Winner: Sandy Bivens

Sandy Bivens began her career in environmental education in 1976 as a Metro Parks Recreation intern. The following year, she joined the staff of the Warner Park Nature Center (WPNC) where she took a particular interest in educational programming and bird research. In 1988, Sandy was promoted to director of the Nature Center. Under her leadership, WPNC’s environmental education (EE) = programs expanded to school field trips, grade-level content, teacher in-service trainings, and Junior Naturalist and High School Naturalist programs. With Sandy at the helm, WPNC became the established leader in Nashville’s and Tennessee’s EE community. In 2005, the city of Nashville added nature centers at three other Metro Parks, and soon after, Sandy was recruited to be the Nature Center Superintendent for the entire Parks Department. Sandy retired in 2013 but continues to volunteer with WPNC, and the educational programs she developed continue to enrich the lives of all Nashvillians, young and old.

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of Nashville, Zone IX


2022 Winner: Matt Byrd

From bees to cows, Matt Byrd has successfully adapted teaching methods and. instructional materials to energize and instill in his agriculture science students the importance of fostering a healthy and sustainable habitat for pollinators and livestock. Through instruction of his students to learn and demonstrate the principles of language skills, life skills and workforce entry skills, Mr. Byrd has encouraged the youth of Hawkins Texas to nurture and foster insect, animal and plant life within the scope of our natural resources.

Proposed by: Member of The Gertrude Windsor Garden Club, Zone IX


2022 Winner: India Carlson

India has been teaching botany and horticulture to teens ages 14-18 at Ballard High School since 2007. She is Chair of the science program, and every year she finds a way to bring her passion for the subject to her students with new, creative energy. During the Pandemic every two weeks she encouraged her students to come by an outdoor table at school where she provided them with a plant that they took home to nurture. She cheered and inspired their participation, study, and continued involvement throughout the year at home. She had each student report on their progress with the plant, checking in with them to see if they needed any further information, or if they wanted to share anything interesting or amusing regarding their attention to the plant.

This current academic year, in addition to her full load of science classes, India also runs the Hugh School Greenhouse, which she has managed for the past 15 years. The Greenhouse program serves over 130 students and continues to grow. Current projects include a climate garden to monitor weather and its effect on plans, pollination studies, growing plants for use in food science class and studying native plants.

Proposed by: Member of Seattle Garden Club, Zone XII


2022 Winner: Robert Crafa

In his role as Coordinator of the Oyster Bay/Cold Spring Harbor Protection Committee, Rob Crafa is the driving force behind the successful efforts to involve community youth in the Community Oyster Garden program he created, which focuses on efforts to protect and improve water quality in the Long Island Sound. Rob has also served as Executive Director of Friends of the Bay and as the Founding Executive Director of The Waterfront Center in Oyster Bay, NY. He was a co-chair of the Oyster Festival and initiated Friends of the Bay’s water quality monitoring program and the popular Bay Day event. He has also served as a Coastal Resource Specialist for the New York State Department of State and is currently the Waterfront Director for SUNY Maritime College.

Over the past five years, Rob’s Community Oyster Garden program is estimated to have seen involvement from more than 200 students under the age of 16 across eleven communities on the North Shore of Long Island, including schools in Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington, Oyster Bay, Syosset and Locust Valley as well as Friends Academy and the Portledge School, among others. 

Proposed by: Member of Three Harbors Garden Club, Zone III


2022 Winner: Tashanda Giles-Jones

Over the past 8 years, Tashanda has led her students at Environmental Charter Middle School - Inglewood through interactions with the campus environment and introduced them to challenging issues in the world around them.  Her classes composted, planted, picked weeds and harvested her beautiful Inglewood gardens with more than 20 fruit trees. Beyond the campus, Tashanda teaches students about environmental justice and toxic racism. She helps them understand the political and historical forces that have led to these inequitable dynamics, and encourages them to strengthen their voices in order to advocate on behalf of their communities.  She believes her students’ voices can be cultivated and heard. As students progress through middle school, they experience opportunities to advocate beyond the campus walls. She is an inspirational and relentless educator, a true advocate! 

Proposed by: Member of Hancock Park Garden Club, Zone XII


2022 Winner: Jane Hirschi

Jane Hirschi's life work is the introduction of garden-based education to K-5 students in Cambridge and Boston. Hirschi started CitySprouts twenty years ago when she was a parent at the Haggerty Elementary school in Cambridge. Today, there is a CitySprouts garden at each of Cambridge’s 12 Public K-5 schools. The gardens, supported by CitySprouts’ garden coordinators and community volunteers, provide a living laboratory for teachers and students, enriching their learning in STEAM education. As well as providing programming throughout the academic year, CitySprouts runs a Summer internship program for motivated middle school students. The students grow flowers, fruits, vegetables, and herbs for eight weeks. The program concludes with a Garden Expo, where the students cook for and serve their fellow gardeners, families, and neighbors. In the past five years the program has crossed the river to Boston, where eight schools now have CitySprouts gardens.

Proposed by: Member of Cambridge Plant & Garden Club, Zone I


2022 Winner: Virginia Kasinsky

Virginia has dedicated much of her career to facilitating the connection between the earth, agriculture, education and community well-being. While serving as Director of Community Based Programs at Glynwood Center for Regional Food and Farming, Cold Spring, New York, she was integral in the development of the Keep Farming program. Among other things, this program helped communities define how farming and agriculture could be fundamental in supporting a strong economy. Training, apprentice programs and a farm incubator program for young, entrepreneurs interested in sustainable farming followed.

Following her over fourteen years at Glynwood, Virginia joined the Downing Park Urban Farm, Newburgh, New York, as Outreach Coordinator. Here she continued her life’s work of connecting the dots between earth and well-being. Working in an area of great poverty, where 56% of students were on school feeding programs, she set her goals on providing fresh food to the food insecure, youth education, mentorship and employment programs. Additionally under her leadership the farm coordinated and supported efforts around food justice, urban agriculture and community gardening within the city.

 

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties, Zone III


2022 Winner: Susan Moffett

Village Garden Club of Sewickley, Zone V

Dr. Susan Moffett (aka Susie) has furthered the environmental education of our youth by serving the community in various roles, such as developing and managing programs at Fern Hollow Nature Center, being a Girl Scout Leader for over a decade (where she is a relied upon resource for earning badges involving anything earth related for the entire Quaker Valley region), teaching youth ministry for the United Methodist Church to be good stewards of the earth, and is a past Conservation Chair for The Village Garden Club of Sewickley (VGC), where she encouraged children to participate in our flower show. She is a beloved and revered member of our community, who shares her knowledge with children in an exceptional way. Miss Susie, as she is known to the kids, goes above and beyond her responsibilities to connect and educate.

She has truly mentored kids, building lifelong relationships that continue on through to their adult years. They may remember her for her love of turkey vultures, honeybees, and lessons on: water tables, community gardens, fossils, birds, invasives, and pollinator gardens. Some of those in her classes are inspired to pursue careers in environmental studies, biology, botany, horticulture and conservation.

Proposed by: Member of Village Garden Club of Sewickley, Zone V


2022 Winner: Henry Myers

Henry Myers joined the Rye Nature Center as an Environmental Educator in 2006 and has been captivating his students ever since. Henry is not the sort who just teaches a class. His wide-eyed enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious and he completely engages the children, asking questions, challenging their answers, encouraging them to explore further and learn deeper.  He draws them in with stories of animals or forest experiences, and hooks them when he pulls live bugs out of his pockets. 

He has taught pre-school ecology, led numerous school programs (K-6), guided summer campers (age 11-13) in environmental exploration, and become the Assistant Director and lead teacher of Forest Education in the RNC Forest Preschool. 

Henry understands that when children play and learn in nature, they are developing their lifelong connection to the natural world. He gives us hope for the future of our planet.

Proposed by: Member of The Little Garden Club of Rye, Zone III


2022 Winner: Barbara Nagel

Over the past four years, Barbara Nagel has developed the Chester Eastside Garden Club for children ages 5 - 14, in conjunction with the work of the Phoenix After School Program and Camp Phoenix summer program. This children's garden club is a part of Chester Eastside, a not-for-profit community service organization, focusing primarily on providing food and family support to residents in this impoverished and underserved neighborhood.

Through their involvement in the Chester Eastside Garden Club, children learn how plants grow and about the cycles in nature, they create and use compost, learn about the importance of pollinators and other garden creatures, learn about nutrition, try new foods and share their produce with their families and the community.

Proposed by: Member of The Weeders, Zone V


2022 Winner: Jennifer Papa

Jennifer Papa is the Executive Director and Founder of City Green. Jennifer’s vision when founding City Green was to support livable, green urban communities that are socially, economically, and environmentally rejuvenated. City Green’s mission since 2004 has been to work to create increased access to healthy, local food while cultivating education in food systems, nutrition, and the environment. City Green works to ensure that everyone has access to bountiful fresh produce; that youth have opportunities for volunteering, leadership, and employment in the community; and that those neighborhoods have welcoming, safe, natural respites.

From preschoolers to high school students, Jennifer works to establish a breadth of educational farm and garden programming to forge a connection between students, food, and nature. Indeed, Jennifer Papa exemplifies the expressed intent of the Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award as “an individual who, through working with children under 16 years of age in horticulture and the environment, has inspired their appreciation of the beauty and fragility of our planet.”

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of Madison, Zone IV


2022 Winner: Chris Rowlands

Chris Rowlands has worked passionately to connect children and youth to
nature and the environment through a creative variety of mediums. He has
taught in Ohio for over 20 years in public and private schools. His curricula have
 
included outdoor education, hands-on artistic residencies for art murals, one-on-
one guided art and original books, music residencies creating original songs, and
 
other activities promoting environmental awareness, with a focus on birds,
wildlife, history and biodiversity. Chris reaches over 30,000 students each year
as an Environmental Outreach Naturalist at Aullwood Audubon. He presents
programs entitled, “It’s Wild Out there” and “Farmin’ Fever” assemblies in dozens
of schools in the Greater Dayton Region each year. He combines humor, fun,
music with environmental education imparting to the students unique features of
 
the natural world and animals in a way they will remember.

Proposed by: Member of The Garden Club of Dayton, Zone X


2022 Winner: Kaity Ryan

Kaity's work with NBS is a core opportunity for local and state youth to gain exposure to nature and wildlife both in and out of school. As an example of NBS' community ties to the fostering of a love and care of the environment, the NGC has been a longstanding provider of grant money to NBS to fund summer camp positions for Star Kids. The mission of the Star Kids Scholarship Program is to provide educational opportunities in the form of tuition aid to effective non-public schools, after-school and summer programs, tutoring and mentoring for those high risk, low-income children who have a parent with a history of incarceration and/or substance abuse.

Children are typically enrolled in the program between kindergarten and grade 4. In addition, Kaity's work at NBS also involves a community partnership with the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, which seeks to provide a safe and nurturing environment for the changing needs of Newport County residents who seek nutritional, educational, and social supports to improve the quality of their lives.

Proposed by: Member of Newport Garden Club, Zone II


2022 Winner: Michele Sacerdote

While the Montessori Children's School, Hanover NH had once a week outdoor program prior to the pandemic, new COVID-19 protocols inspired us to expand our outdoor education to four days a week. With small rotating cohorts spending one morning a week outside, we needed a teacher who would spearhead the program. Michele took on this role and created a year-long program, with weekly lessons both educational and engaging. Every day, she teaches the lesson at circle, oftentimes including songs, books, and movement. The children then go on nature walks on our 8+ acres of land, with trails connecting to the Appalachian trails. Oftentimes the children conduct science experiments or nature activities, or simply observe nature, using their senses.

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of Dublin, Zone I


2022 Winner: Kaki Scheer

The Garden Club of Cincinnati, Zone X

At the Cincinnati Nature Center (CNC), beginning in 2011, Kaki volunteered to teach children about the outdoors, connecting youth and their families to nature through multiple avenues. She encouraged families to bring children to explore the Nature PlayScape, a space at the center with native deciduous plants of different textures and colors, fostering children’s curiosity and discovery. By leading walks for families and children, Kaki facilitated youth education in the outdoors by aiding in the creation of the curriculums for different programs for families and children. In 2013, upon joining the faculty at Cincinnati Country Day School, Kaki maintained her relationship with the CNC, bridging her efforts in childhood education between the two institutions.

Conservation being the hallmark of her education of children, Kaki took a leading role in the initiative to create a student conservation summit, organized and hosted at Cincinnati Country Day School. An innovator, Kaki connected older students to younger ones, making it possible for children to learn from one another, entrenching the lessons of older students as they helped in the lessons of younger ones, while also allowing the simple perspective of younger students to ground that of their older peers.


2022 Winner: Susie Spikol

Susie Spikol, who has been a professional naturalist and environmental educator for over thirty years, has made an incalculable impact on the children of the Monadnock Region of New Hampshire. She continues to inspire young people every day with her passion, broad knowledge, and deep experience of the New England environment. Starting with her internship in Central Park as a Columbia University student, Susie, a Brooklyn native, has dedicated herself to teaching children to connect, understand and embrace nature. There are few children or teens in the Monadnock region who have never canoed, hiked, explored wetlands, spotted birds, uncovered amphibians, or been snow-tracking with Susie.

Most recently, Susie founded the Lab Girls after-school program, which "Connects Girls to STEAM Through Nature.” Each week, the “Lab Girls” meet a different female role model who works in STEAM and then have a chance to experiment with the tools of her trade. High school students with an interest in science help the middle school girls navigate the hands-on experiments.  Susie’s first book, The Animal Adventurer’s Guide, is coming out in fall 2022, and she is currently at work on a second book about insects.

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of Dublin, Zone I


2022 Winner: Chris Wyman

Through teaching children from Gibbs Elementary and Dunbar Middle school at the Dunbar Community Garden that is situated next to both schools. Children learn about vegetables, fruit, honeybees and chickens by engaging in a hands on learning in the garden. The garden is located in what would be defined as fresh food desert. Children learn about healthy food options in a downtown neighborhood where learning about this is void.

Proposed by: Member of Little Rock Garden Club, Zone IX


2021 Winner: Howard Brosius

Howard Brosius strives to improve and strengthen early childhood nutrition education within existing daycares and preschools by offering hands-on gardening and harvesting experiences and integrating fresh vegetables into daily meals and snack time. Through his program, his students learn about the connections between food, agricultural systems and the natural world. In addition to educating his young students, Howard sends recipes and newsletters home with the children, thus helping to inspire healthy eating for entire families within the underprivileged neighborhoods he serves.

Recognizing that “the nutrition a child receives during the critical transition from birth, through early and mid-childhood affects their ability to focus, learn, and grow,” Howard’s program provides nutritious fresh produce to his students and equips early childhood teachers, administrators, and guardians with the knowledge and tools they need in order to continue preparing healthy meals and snacks. This access to nutritious meals “increases early childhood success in all areas of growth and learning and helps prevent children from entering elementary school with inhibited learning abilities.” Compelled by a profusion of research that indicates that “direct, frequent experience with the natural world produces positive physical, mental and emotional benefits in children and adults,” and that “regular contact with the natural world is essential to the emotional development of children,” Howard Brosius encourages his Pre-K students to “be curious, get dirty, and use their ‘listen,’ ‘smell,’ and ‘watch’ senses.

Proposed by: Member of The Weeders, Zone V


2021 Winner: Lucy Meigs

Lucy Meigs is passionate about sharing her love of the natural world with others through immersive activities and stories to connect young people to nature. Early in the season, she leads annual springtime adventures, aka Frog Friday Rambles. Her curricular programs include: Finding Roots; Plant or Fungi?;Mountain-Laurel-Small Flowers; and Wildflowers and Nature Connections. She instructs children about vernal pool ecology and finding clues about who lives in the woods. She offers fascinating details about local plants and creatures found in ponds; the children leave knowing how to study water under scopes. Additionally, she teaches local geology as well as history of the indigenous people of the Middletown area.

Proposed by: Member of Middletown Garden Club, Zone II


2021 Winner: Alice Hubbard

Most students in the neighborhood surrounding the Rawlings Conservatory have never visited even though admission is free to Baltimore City residents. Alice conceived of a plan to introduce students in the neighborhood to the Conservatory.

The Conservatory is located in the neighborhood that was torn apart by rioting in April 2015 after the death of Freddie Gray who incurred fatal neck injuries during his arrest. In July of the same year, Alice went to work on Little Leaves. With the help of professional staff at the Conservatory and her daughter, a curriculum was developed to complement the science program for Baltimore City Schools' second graders. Alice procured funding for buses to bring students to the Conservatory and enlisted volunteers from local garden clubs. This program is currently on hiatus but will resume when pandemic restrictions are lifted and schools are back in session.

Proposed by: Member of Amateur Gardeners Club, Zone VI


2021 Winner: Amanda Storey

Amanda Storey is the Executive Director of Jones Valley Teaching Farm, where she’s been an enthusiastic advocate, volunteer and employee for 10 years- four of which have been spent in her current role as Executive Director. Amanda has used the power of growing food to transform and improve the pre-K - 12 educational experience. Her journey from marketing manager at Cooking Light magazine, Assistant VP of community Health and Wellness at United Way, Director of Programs at the Community Food bank, and volunteering at the Jones Valley Teaching Farm led her to her passion: using food production as a lens for learning and leading.

Under her leadership, she has designed a program that includes full-time instructors for each of the school garden sites. She continues to refine the metrics for measuring the impact on school curricula and spearheaded a capital campaign that allowed the Jones Valley Teaching Farm to purchase a downtown farm, located adjacent to a public housing project. This farm provides seeds, seedlings, compost, tools and garden supplies to community gardeners. The Good School Food is a hands-on food model that connects students to food, farming and the culinary arts through standards-based, cross-curricular lessons during the school day. The program has seven school partners, located on elementary, middle school and high school campuses, each of which has an on- site garden. Through this program, students grow, harvest, cook and sell the produce from the farm, in addition to after-school programs where they learn th connection between sustainable farming practice and science.

Proposed by: Member of Little Garden Club of Birmingham, Zone VIII


2021 Winner: Becky Cushing-Gop

A core component of environmental education for elementary students in western Massachusetts is the Berkshire Environmental Literacy (BEL) Program. As the director of Mass Audubon West's network of wildlife sanctuaries, Becky Cushing-Gop is the driving force behind the success of this exemplary nature- based, outdoor laboratory and classroom learning initiative. Conceived and implemented by Becky in 2015, she and her dedicated team of naturalist- educators reached 225 students that inaugural year. During the 2019-20 school year the program has expanded to 1,500 students in 85 classrooms (36 of which were new pilot programs). They also reached an important milestone of serving fully half of all Grade 3 and Grade 5 students in Berkshire County's ten school districts.

Proposed by: Member of Lenox Garden Club, Zone I


2021 Winner: Emily Stanley

Emily Stanley, who has a PhD in Environmental Science, has furthered the environmental education of youth both as a science teacher and Department Chair at the Jemicy School, a school for children with dyslexia and other language based learning differences, and as a Chesapeake Bay region community educator. The focus of her work has been on the importance of natural play areas and making them accessible in all neighborhoods. While most of her time is spent with her Jemicy students, she uses her free time to promote play-based and environmental education initiatives with local organizations such as the Maryland Zoo, Cylburn Arboretum, Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education, Irvine Nature Center, KaBOOM! and Creative City Public Charter School.

The recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching, Ms. Stanley traveled to New Zealand in 2016 to research sustainability and biodiversity, and to develop a teaching “toolkit” for use by elementary schools on her return to the US. Again, her focus has always been on reaching as many children as possible to turn our youth into advocates for the environment.

Proposed by: Member of Green Spring Valley Garden Club, Zone VI


2021 Winner: Jennifer Erving

Jennifer Erving is the Youth Education Specialist at the Norfolk Botanical Garden. She started her career as an “Outdoor Living Skills” specialist for a YMCA camp. What better way to learn about nature and your environment than when camping? As the mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors are innumerable.

Jennifer began working over fifteen years ago at Norfolk Botanical Garden focused on overnight weekend campouts for families and girl scouts, often hosting over 70 campers with 10 teenage volunteers. A showpiece of the NBG is the World of Wonders Children’s Garden where Jennifer, as an “in the field” educator has done “wonders!” She has been instrumental in the programs which allow the children to enjoy outdoor learning experiences with the splash fountains, passport gardens, see, smell, and touch plants, discovery stations, scavenger hunts, crafts, walking tours and “dirt factory”. Also Jennifer uses these fun activities as an opportunity to add educational materials and discussions on not only the environment but on world history and geography.

In addition, Jennifer is a parent , who understands that caregivers need support so they can better engage during a visit with their children. Jennifer underscores this in her writing, “as an environmental educator it is easy to forget that for some grownups we should also start with the basics. (This was made even more evident when I saw a local post with a photo of a snapping turtle that someone was holding because she thought a neighbor’s pet had escaped). Environmental education is vital”.

Proposed by: Member of The Garden Club of Norfolk, Zone VII


2021 Winner: Shelley Flint

San Domenico School’s EcoLiteracy Teacher and Director of Sustainabiility Shelley Flint has inspired hundreds of students to include environmental stewardship in their lives. Day after day, for over 20 years, Shelley is in the school’s “Garden of Hope” working with K-12 children. From using seeds to help teach kindergarteners counting as they plant what will become vegetables for their lunches, to guiding a high school senior through an AP Environmental Science class project with an iPad in the Garden, Shelley finds innovative and compelling ways to get her “kids on the earth, connecting with the plants, and feeling a sense of responsibility as caretakers of this planet we all share,” as she has been heard saying many a time.

Says colleague and fellow science teacher, Amy McIntosh, “Shelley has dedicated her life to helping young people grow in their knowledge and practice of caring for the earth. Her youngest students, and even kids who attend her community-favorite Explorers camps, play outside, joyfully learning about cooking healthy food, appreciating nature, and practicing care for gardens.” You can see Shelley’s legacy and years of dedication to gardening and sustainability throughout campus. “Many of the projects Shelley has used over the years to teach young people about environmental connection and stewardship are still on campus today.

Proposed by: Member of Marin Garden Club, Zone XII


2021 Winner: Susan Anton

Susan Anton is nominated for the Hull Award because she created, designed, and implemented a new program for Leadership Education Athletics in Partnership (LEAP), a well-respected non-profit organization established in 1992 to provide children living in underserved neighborhoods of New Haven a welcoming place to learn, explore, and grow. Eight years ago Susan took a neglected backyard space behind the LEAP Community Center and, at her own expense , built raised vegetable beds, designed pollinator gardens, and developed an environmental horticulture program for the children. In after school and summer programs, Susan teaches the gardening portion of their academic and civics curriculum. They learn about soil health, what plants to grow, the role of pollinators, and how to positively affect the health of the environment.

Proposed by: Member of Garden Club of New Haven, Zone II


2021 Winner: Tedor Whitman

For over 25 years, Tedor Whitman has been teaching and leading conservation programs across a wide range of U.S. ecosystems. He has implemented programs that require children to participate directly in the collection of data for evaluation of the environment, in restoring environments, and that teaches them how an environment supports the native plant and animal species. This approach is supported by his educational background; a bachelor's in biology and a master's in conservation biology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Proposed by: Member of The Short Hills Garden Club, Zone IV


2020 Winner: Leigh Adams

Leigh Adams has worked passionately to connect children and youth to 
the natural environment. She has taught in Southern California for 
over 40 years in public and private schools and for over 25 years at the Los Angeles County Arboretum. Her curricula have included outdoor education, plant-based arts, habitat gardening, soil science, and other activities promoting environmental awareness, with a focus on water, carbon, and biodiversity. At the LA County Arboretum, Adams served 
as lead educator for the landmark Crescent Farm project, a one-acre outdoor classroom and demonstration site dedicated to creating a healthier urban ecosystem. Through her inspired teaching and leadership there, nearly 75,000 visiting children have participated in tours and activities. 
She has also been highly successful 
in reaching youth from low- income communities, with several individuals now pursuing careers in environmental organizations and the green industries due to her mentorship. Her sponsors consider Adams “among our region’s very finest environmental educators.”

 

Proposed by: Member of Pasadena Garden Club, Zone XII


2020 Winner: Sandy Greene

Sandy Greene has demonstrated 
a lifetime commitment to the environment and inspires children to become better stewards of the earth. A visionary leader, she creates innovative hands-on programs to excite children of all ages and cultures about conservation and natural resources. Examples of her work include creating forest walks at the Wildlife Center of Virginia for students to learn about their forest animal mascot (owl, hawk, opossum, or snake) and how it lives within its habitat; developing an innovative program for second and third graders to learn about wetlands habitat at the George Washington National Forest in Augusta Springs; and helping to construct the Marl Creek Trail within the Cyrus McCormick historical farm. Here she provided the wording for interpretive signs on the importance of riparian ways and armed teachers with ideas and equipment for teaching field trips. Greene, always wearing green so the remember her name, celebrates every child with infectious enthusiasm and makes them feel special.

Proposed by: Member of The Augusta Garden Club, Zone VII


2020 Winner: Mindy Jaffe

Proposed by Jann Boxold and Heidi Ho, The Garden Club of Honolulu,
Zone XII
 Mindy Jaffe is an environmental champion who has devoted her time to educating Hawaii’s keiki (children) to be proud stewards of the land. She instructs 2,200 students annually about the science of food waste, thermal composting, and vermicomposting. She sought to address the overwhelming problem of food waste in Hawaii schools by introducing the Zero Waste program to teach the students to recycle daily food waste they do not eat and to turn it into compost. Their mulch 
is used in school gardens where 
crops are grown, harvested, and eaten. Caring for the environment becomes a daily practice for students. The program was first introduced at Pearl City High School, which subsequently was honored with the US EPA Food Recovery Challenge award. The program was expanded to five elementary schools and one intermediate school, creating the Windward Zero Waste School Hui, co-founded by Jaffe. Since 2014, students have diverted over 300,000 pounds of food waste from landfills.

Proposed by: Member of The Garden Club of Honolulu, Zone XII


2020 Winner: Cathy Justis

Cathy Justis is the Director of Education for the Wolf River Conservancy in Memphis, Tennessee. With an emphasis on water education, she provides a wide range of programming for K-12 students and others, including frog chorus walks, stream strolls, and service projects. Her activities are designed to provide Memphis and Shelby County youth with a greater appreciation of the natural environment, especially a better understanding of the 
source of clean drinking water. She frequently is invited by local educators to participate directly in the classroom teaching of environmental education. Complementing her direct involvement with children, Justis also is certified to teach “Project WET” workshops, designed to provide educators at all levels with information on diverse water topics so that they can reach children with objective, science-based water education. Over the last few years, Cathy has reached hundreds of educators with Project WET.

Proposed by: Member of Memphis Garden Club, Zone IX


2020 Winner: Marlene Mayes

Marlene Mayes has introduced thousands of children to the world of agriculture and horticulture at the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield, Connecticut, where she has volunteered for 16 years. At Auerfarm she manages both 
the teaching greenhouse and the Foodshare demonstration garden, having grown the latter from a small in-ground project to a 50+ raised-
bed intensive production garden, which is used to engage youth in planting and harvesting over two 
tons of produce annually, as well as teaching them about food sources, biology, and chemistry. She has pioneered educational programs to bring school children to the farm and into greenhouses and gardens, while getting their hands in the soil. She 
has created programming for students with special needs or in need of service hours, Girl Scouts, 4-Hers, and numerous other groups. As a result
of her tireless efforts, roughly 1,200 school children now visit Auerfarm monthly, often leaving with a plant they have planted.

Proposed by: Member of Connecticut Valley Garden Club, Zone II


2020 Winner: Lauren Miller

Lauren Miller has taught numerous environmental programs, including 
at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center, Pennsylvania; Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center, Wisconsin; Stratford Ecological Center, Ohio; and at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. Now a teacher of Environmental Education for first through fourth-grade students at the Birchwood School of Hawken, she instills in her students a dedication to making their community and world a better place, teaching them about nature, how they are affected by it, and how the world is affected by them. She brings her passion for experiential science into the classroom, emphasizing hands-on projects. She and her classes created a pollinator garden after much research, planning, fund raising, collaboration, and in-ground construction. Shortly after the creation of the garden, a local news anchor was heard on air saying how much he “hated bees.” Recognizing a teachable moment, she and her fourth-grade students invited him to their classroom, where they shared with him the value of pollinators for the environment. He then apologized on air to the bees for his previous remarks.

Proposed by: Member of Shaker Lakes Garden Club, Zone X


2020 Winner: Amy Padolf

As Director of Education at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden 
in Miami, Florida, Amy Padolf 
has inspired thousands of students annually with innovative and engaging science programs. She introduced FTBG’s Million Orchid Project into 250 Florida schools, spearheading the installation of orchid lab materials 
in middle and high schools; working with elementary students to plant 
rare orchids in the trees around 
their schools; and developing the STEMLab program, a mobile 
orchid propagation lab built in a decommissioned school bus, bringing specialized propagation technology 
to seventh graders. The project is now the nation’s largest educational outreach program dedicated to orchid conservation. Padolf also initiated 
the Growing Beyond Earth Project, designed to have students conduct botany experiments on growing plants in space, in conjunction with NASA researchers at the Kennedy Space Center. Additionally, she developed Shade our Schools, a leaf research project for elementary students, in conjunction with the University of Miami, and helped to establish a public magnet school dedicated to the plant sciences.

Proposed by: Member of The Garden Club of Palm Beach, Zone VIII


2020 Winner: Jennifer Toth

Jennifer Toth has taught kindergarten at Maple Glen Elementary School
for 15 years. A self-described “nature and science geek,” she guides her young students through a year-long experience in which the wonders of the natural world come alive. In her unit on “The Five Senses,” children explore an undeveloped natural 
land area, where they watch insect s
up close, touch rocks with different textures, smell different parts of plants, sit in blinds to watch and listen for birds, and draw or write in their journals. Recycling, using scrap bins to avoid wasting supplies, and conserving water when washing hands are all regularly practiced in the classroom. She also infuses environmental awareness into non-science topics, such as using the life cycle of penguins as part of the Language Arts program. Her impact is felt not only in the classroom but also on the curriculum committees for both her school and district, on which she plays a leading role in creating science curricula for kindergarten and elementary grades.

Proposed by: Member of Wissahickon Garden Club, Zone V


2020 Winner: Julie Wolfe

A teacher for 22 years, Julie Wolfe is a leader in introducing environmental education to her urban public school district, where over 65 percent of the population qualifies for free/reduced lunch, and families have limited access to safe outdoor spaces. She has created a myriad of outdoor education programs. For example, she designed and maintains the school native plant and vegetable garden; started 
a school-wide recycling program; created Science Inquiry kits filled
 with tools for students to observe 
and record their findings in the outdoor environment; and connects elementary students to a local high school environmental program, with the elementary students introducing 
it in turn to kindergarteners. She
 has taken her students on field trips 
to local parks and nearby redwood groves. Partnering with Nature Bridge, an educational partner of the National Park Service, and engaging in significant fundraising so that all could attend, she led her school’s fourth-graders on a two-night experience in Yosemite National Park, which few had ever seen despite it being relatively nearby. Her nominators say, “she stands out as a pioneer in integrating, and in rendering more accessible, the gifts of environmental education.”

Proposed by: Member of Piedmont Garden Club, Zone XII


2019 Winner: Carol Burton

Carol Burton began volunteering for Urban Harvest 20 years ago and is now director of youth education. She currently oversees the garden and nutrition classes for 22 schools, impacting children aged 4–14 from all over greater Houston. Urban Harvest is a nonprofit organization with three programs: community gardens, farmers market, and youth education. Over the last 15 years Burton has greatly enlarged her job to include training garden educators and project managers who help develop edible gardens. Eighty percent of the schools with an edible garden are Title 1 schools where nearly 100 percent of the students are receiving free breakfast, lunch and now from the garden, dinner.

Proposed by: Member of The Garden Club of Houston, Zone IX