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October 11, 2013

Governor O’Malley Receives National Environmental Education Award

by Martha
Judy Braus, NAAEE Executive Director and Jose “Pepe” Marcos-Iga, NAAEE Board President present the Governor with his Leadership in Environmental Education Award

Jose “Pepe” Marcos-Iga, NAAEE Board President and Judy Braus, NAAEE Executive Director, honor Governor O’Malley

Highlights Maryland’s environmental educational successes

The North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE) presented Governor Martin O’Malley with a leadership award for environmental literacy this evening at its annual conference in Baltimore. Governor O’Malley’s passion for connecting Maryland youth with their natural world, and leadership in developing environmental programs and initiatives earned him this prestigious honor.
“I accept this award on behalf of the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, and all of our partners who have worked together to ensure that our young people graduate high school not only with the intellectual ability to tackle complex environmental challenges ─ but also with the will and desire to care for and save our troubled planet,” said Governor O’Malley before a crowd of more than 300 university professors, educators, researchers, organizations and government leaders from across the nation. “Many thanks to the North American Association for Environmental Education for this honor, and for their vision, hard work and leadership.”

Governor O’Malley has made environmental education a priority of his administration, through programs like the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature, which ensures all Maryland young people have the opportunity to connect with their natural world and grow to become informed and responsible stewards, and the recently launched Explore and Restore your Schoolshed, which encourages schools to develop activities and lesson plans that introduce students to stream stewardship. Through this statewide partnership, schools adopt the tributaries on or near their property and turn their restoration into a learning experience. More than 100 schools in 22 counties are now participating.

In 2011, Maryland became the first state to adopt an environmental literacy graduation requirement, infusing core subjects with lessons about conservation, the Chesapeake Bay and natural resource management. The State’s commitment to rigorous environmental education ensures Maryland students receive vital exposure to their natural world through the classroom, building a foundation for 21st century environmental decision making, problem solving and green jobs.

He also created the Stream Restoration Challenge, a three-year grant program that is awarding up to $6 million to local governments, schools and non-governmental organizations to improve water quality, while providing opportunities for students in service learning and environmental literacy. 

Established in 2008, the Maryland Partnership for Children in Nature is a national model. Under this initiative, the Governor established the Maryland Conservation Jobs Corps, which has graduated 1,800 young people; and the Maryland Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights, which promotes the vast network of opportunities available statewide for children and their families to learn about and enjoy the outdoors.

“In such a pivotal year for environmental education, we couldn’t be more thrilled to host Governor O’Malley and a renowned group of participants in the beautiful city of Baltimore,” said Judy Braus, executive director, NAAEE. “Together, we look forward to advancing innovation, learning, and networking to accelerate our shared vision of creating a sustainable future.”

The North American Association for Environmental Education is a pioneering membership organization dedicated to accelerating environmental literacy through education. NAAEE supports a network of more than 16,000 educators, researchers and organizational members working in environmental education across more than 30 countries through direct membership and 54 regional affiliate organizations. For more information, visit www.naaee.net.

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