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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, July 16, 2024


May 27, 2002 – Mayra Suarez-Velez, a marine adviser at the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Marine and Environmental Studies, has been honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for her outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality in the region.
At a recent ceremony in the EPA's regional office in New York City, she received the 2002 Environmental Quality Award, the highest recognition the EPA makes to the public.
As a staff member of UVI's Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service on the St. Thomas campus, Suarez-Velez has focused on educating the public about marine issues. "I don't consider it my award," she said. "It is a VIMAS award for the work I have done at UVI." She added, "Recognition like this means that we are really making a contribution."
She has led more than 20 educational workshops on non-point source pollution, utilizing a model of the V.I. environment replete with hills, a parking lot, mangroves and a beach. With it, she showed students and teachers how things that people do on land affect the water that surrounds them. She also oversaw the creation of "Detective Goo-Too," a comic book about preventing water pollution, and "Children and the Sea," a coloring book on ocean care and conservation. She gave teachers who attended her workshops the booklets to use as educational tools.
"What's especially exciting about this is that the Center for Marine and Environmental Studies is the newest department in the university — it's only two years old," center director Richard Nemeth said. "I hope that this trend continues."
The EPA gives Environmental Quality Awards each year to individuals, not-for-profit groups, government officials and others. Nominations are made from within and outside the agency, and a panel of EPA employees decides who receives the awards.

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