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GCA Awards 12 Star Educators the 2024 Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award


May 29, 2024

Recipients foster appreciation in youth for the beauty and fragility of our planet

The Garden Club of America is proud to announce the recipients of the 2024 Elizabeth Abernathy Hull Award for Early Environmental Education. Established in 1992, the Hull Award recognizes individuals who, through working with children under 16 years of age in horticulture and the environment, inspire an appreciation for the beauty and fragility of our planet. 

Recipients were nominated by GCA clubs across the country and each recipient was truly outstanding in her/his field. From fostering a love for the outdoors to empowering communities by growing their own food to encouraging the next generation of environmental stewards, these educators are making a real difference in our world.

In honor of Miss Hull (1900-1996), an active member of the Ridgefield Garden Club and an early proponent of environmental education, a $1,000 prize is awarded to each recipient. 

The 2024 recipients are:

Lisa Blakley (Knoxville GC) is the founder of the Knoxville Garden Club’s initiative Plant Blindness/Plant Vision, a plant-based learning experience that has empowered more than 4,000 children in the Knoxville community to use their five senses to identify plants. 

Robert Carroll (Virginia Beach GC), a devoted teacher at Norfolk Academy, immerses his students in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem using the Tidewater region as an extended classroom filled with hands-on experiences that educate and encourage future environmental stewardship.

Chloe Dente (GC of Lookout Mountain) serves as the Education and Volunteer Coordinator at Crabtree Farms where she welcomes over 2,000+ school aged youth annually to participate in urban farm-based education and empowers local families to grow their own food.

Patricia Galbreath (GC of Halifax Country), a dedicated 25+ years educator at the Holly Hill School, has mentored and inspired students by educating them about gardening with an emphasis on the value of trees.

Blake Goll (The GC of Philadelphia) is the Education Programs Manager for Willistown Conservation Trust where he has developed an experiential curriculum that incorporates bird conservation, agro-ecology, and habitat protection to create lifelong conservationists.

Tim Kalan (Shaker Lakes GC) is an art teacher in the Shaker Heights Schools and community volunteer who uses his Native Plant Garden to help students better understand life cycles, ecosystems and their relationship to the health of the environment.

Sheila Williams Ridge (St. Paul GC) directs the Child Development Laboratory Preschool at the University of Minnesota where her work has been deeply focused on leadership and hands-on work in experiential learning opportunities that connect children with nature.

Abraham Saldana (Founders GC of Dallas) is the head of the Jubilee Park & Community Center's Community Garden where he engages youth in the lessons of growing food - from planting seed to harvesting to giving back to an underserved community.

Terry Smith (Piedmont GC), retired teacher and community activist and Co-founder of Piedmont Connect and the Pollinator Posse, has transformed her community’s landscape by inspiring thousands of students and parents to establish gardens and build a more sustainable future.

Lauren Theis (GC of Somerset Hills) is the Director of Education at Raritan Headwaters Association where she instructs environmental educators and engages thousands of children and their families in outdoor learning experiences that connect them to nature.

Page Skinner Thomas (Late Bloomer’s GC) is a pharmacologist teaching at the North Florida School of Special Education where she has enriched the lives of students with intellectual and developmental differences through innovative garden initiatives.
Stan Wood (The Palmetto GC of South Carolina) has taught generations of children to see the natural world through hands-on opportunities in wilderness exploration, environmental education, and leadership development.

We thank these outstanding educators and the GCA clubs who nominated them.  In the words of biologist and conservationist Jane Goodall, “We do have reasons for hope: Our clever brains, the resilience of nature, the indomitable human spirit, and above all, the commitment of young people when they’re empowered to take action.”


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