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Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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EPA Honors V.I. Citizen and Organizations With Environmental Quality Awards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has honored four individuals or organizations from the U.S. Virgin Islands with Environmental Quality Awards for their achievements protecting public health and the environment. EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck was joined by Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez to present the awards to this year’s recipients at a ceremony at EPA’s offices in Manhattan.
“These honorees work tirelessly to protect the environment and to ensure that all of us can look forward to a cleaner, healthier world,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “We can all be proud of what they have accomplished and the example they have set.”
EPA presents the awards annually in conjunction with Earth Day to individuals, businesses and organizations in EPA Region 2, which covers New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally-recognized Indian Nations. The awards recognize significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in the previous calendar year. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, visit www.epa.gov/region02/eqa/.
Individual Citizen: Audrey Penn
Audrey Penn is passionate about environmental education, which she expresses though her role as the program manager at the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park. Audrey produces the program entitled “School Kids in the Park” (SKIP) as a means introduce youths to environmental issues. In 2010 alone, over 600 students took part in the SKIP program. During the summer, Penn works with Student Conservation Association to recruit high school students from around the world to St. John to spend a month learning the trades in cross cultural life skills of the USVI.
Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group:
St. John’s Recycling
The St. John’s community recycling initiative started by promoting recycling at one or two dumpster stations. It eventually expanded across the island when the group created homemade recycling boxes in response to public desire to recycle. The organization and its message has grown, paving the way for government-provided recycling containers and a multipart, group-run collection system.
Ridge to Reef Farm
Ridge to Reef Farm (R2R) is an agri-tourism enterprise that has made great advancements with regard to sustainable local food production in the USVI. Through its unique visitor programs, organic farming methods, and open source local food web market, R2R has a creative approach to community engagement. R2R welcomes over 4,500 visitors a year to its completely solar-powered facility and U.S. Department of Agriculture-certified organic farm for tours and workshops, and farm-fresh food events. At such events, experienced guides educate community members about R2R’s food production strategy and how it helps restore a recovering native ecology.
Gulf of Mexico Foundation
Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) has been working in habitat conservation, restoration and protection in the U.S. Virgin Islands for over five years. As a result, they have restored more than 700 acres of critical habitat, installed mooring buoys for vessel protection during storms, implemented best management practices to reduce sediment runoff into bays, and conducted marine debris and derelict vessel removal, all with community involvement. Through their partnerships with local stakeholders, they have provided training related to grant-writing and project development.

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