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TEACHER, YOUTH PROGRAM RECEIVE EPA AWARDS

April 22, 2004 – On Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency region serving the Virgin Islands will pay tribute to an organization and an individual in the territory for their accomplishments in improving the environment in their communities.
In a ceremony at the regional offices in New York, Jane M. Kenny, Region 2 administrator, will present the agency's 2004 Environmental Quality Awards to a St. Thomas group serving youth, the Environmental Rangers; and to a St. Croix educator, Education Complex High School math and science teacher Ann Marie Gibbs.
The awards, along with those to recipients in other Region 2 jurisdictions, are being presented in observance of Earth Day, which was Thursday but is being celebrated throughout April by environmental agencies nationwide. Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History, will be the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
"By taking a leadership role and making local changes, the award recipients demonstrate that we can all have a positive impact on the environment," Kenny said in a release, describing both the Environmental Rangers and Gibbs as "trail blazers."
The Environmental Rangers program is receiving the EPA's Environmental Quality Award for environmental education. The not-for-profit science study program on St. Thomas is aimed at educating youth about the importance of preserving and protecting their fragile ecosystem.
Emphasizing the idea that "as we learn we teach," the Environmental Rangers program provides field activities for young people that include educational tours of the Mangrove Lagoon wastewater treatment plant and the Bovoni landfill, exploration of the Mandahl Bay salt pond, and walks along the Paradise Point Tramway Nature Trail.
"These activities demonstrate the importance of preserving natural habitats and resources and highlight Virgin Islands natural history," the EPA release stated. "The program, sponsored by Camp Umoja, is committed to inspiring youths to enjoy environmental recreation and education."
The Environmental Quality Award to an individual recognizes Gibbs as a teacher "who involves her students in hands-on experiences that protect and preserve natural habitats," the release said.
Gibbs has taught and supported environmental causes in the Virgin Islands for 23 years. Her students are involved in the St. Croix Environmental Association's Mangrove Restoration Project and in programs through the V.I. Marine Advisory Service at the University of the Virgin Islands and the government's V.I. Energy Office. Two years ago, Gibbs was a co-recipient of a federal bio-energy grant for generating a bio-fuel from waste cooking oil and for creating a bio-fuel instructional vehicle.
Not-for-profit, environmental and community groups, individual citizens, environmental education and business organizations, and members of the news media are eligible for the EPA's annual Environmental Quality Awards. Honorees are chosen for having made significant contributions to improving the environment in the region, which encompasses New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and seven federally recognized Indian Nations. Nominations are accepted from within the agency and from the outside community.

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