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Press Release

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Governor’s Press Office
(850) 488-5394

Doug Tobin, DEP
(850) 245-2112 or (850) 519-2897 (cell)

DEP Secretary Sole Announces Five Winners for Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards
~ Winners recognized for environmental excellence in education ~

TAMPA – Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole tonight announced the five winners for the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards program in Tampa. The winners represented schools from throughout Florida including: Pasco, Monroe, Brevard and Broward counties. Pasco County was honored in both the district and student categories.

“The efforts of all of those involved in the first year of the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards have been tremendous,” said Governor Charlie Crist. “All of the winners demonstrated amazing leadership, creativity and commitment to protecting our natural resources.”

The awards program, which was announced by Governor Crist on Earth Day, recognizes the efforts of creating healthy, efficient and productive places for learning. Three finalists were selected in each of the five categories including: student, classroom, teacher, school and school district. The Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards is a partnership between DEP, Florida Department of Education, Volunteer Florida Foundation, Collins Center for Public Policy’s Sustainable Florida Program and the Florida Association of School Administrators. Eligible projects were categorized in four themes: green learning environments including indoor and outdoor facilities, exemplary green curriculum or teacher professional development programs, green service learning projects and green policies or partnerships.

“As Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, it always gives me great pleasure when I see actions taken that help to preserve our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “But it is even better when I see students and educators making efforts that inspire others and make a difference for the future. It is an honor to take a moment to recognize and laud these achievements.”

The awards event recognized not only the five winners, but all of the 15 finalists recently announced by Governor Crist. Each of the five winners received a $1,500 cash award and finalists received $500.

“I am amazed at the amount of support we’ve received from not only the school districts but also the teachers across Florida,” said Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith. “While this is the first year for the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards, I look forward to seeing the initiatives developed by the finalists and winners implemented throughout the state.”

More than 125 applications were received. The total cumulative impact of the projects implemented from all the applicants saved more than 25,000 gallons of water -- enough to fill 638 bathtubs, nearly two million kilowatt-hours of electricity -- which would power 213 homes for an entire year, and nearly $240,000.

"These awards spotlight the tremendous efforts of students, teachers and schools, and Progress Energy is proud to be a supporting sponsor," said Vincent M. Dolan, president and chief executive officer of Progress Energy Florida. "Alternative and 'green' energy sources hold great promise, and we are investing in the minds that will help shape our energy future."

The awards are made possible through the generous support of presenting sponsor Progress Energy, education sponsor Florida Department of Lottery, supporting sponsors Publix Super Markets and Darden, as well as in-kind sponsor Comcast Cable.

The five award winners are:

  • Student Award: Matt Mooney is a junior in the International Baccalaureate program at Land O’ Lakes High School. With nearly $12,000 in proceeds earned from recycling more than 782,000 aluminum cans, Matt joined the Cans for Habitat program as a Recycling Team Leader to help build a home for a family through the East Pasco Habitat for Humanity. His ultimate goal is to collect the 4.2 million cans necessary to pay for building an entire home.
  • Class Award: Joshua Clearman is a science teacher at Key West High School. Mr. Clearman and his class created the Alternative Energy Center to help students adopt emerging green technology. Mr. Clearman’s class produced biodiesel on a small scale and even had a car donated by a member of the community to use as a test model for biodiesel. With a small amount of funding, Mr. Clearman divided the students into groups - mechanic, research, public relations, artistic and facilitators to take their project to the next level.
  • Teacher Award: Allan Phipps is a magnet instructor at South Plantation High School in Plantation. Mr. Phipps, through his Solar & Alternative Energies project, has led his students to create two solar race cars that have competed at national levels. By engaging students in the building of solar cars that they can then race, they have set their sights on a goal. Mr. Phipps and his students have participated in more than 40 events in the past three years to reach out to people in the community about alternative energies.
  • School Award: Odyssey Charter School in Palm Bay is a green school of service learning. The school features natural daylight captured indirectly with large windows and clerestories in each classroom. Superior indoor air quality is achieved by bringing in fresh air which is dehumidified and purified through a filtering system. The school’s Healthy Café offers daily fresh fruits and vegetables, while the Farm-to-School program uses locally picked organic produce in its school lunches. Students learn to care for the earth and people through Service Learning projects – students compost, donate leftovers to the Daily Bread for the homeless, perform school and beach cleanups, and recycle paper, print cartridges and bottles.
  • District Award: Pasco County School District has taken an active effort in the promotion of environmental stewardship through its conservation awareness program, and its hands-on approach to learning about and protecting the environment. Through its “Raising Awareness for Conservation” project, the District promotes environmental stewardship by promoting sustainable resources, lowering facility operating costs and providing environmental education for students. One way is through the “Cleaning for Health” program which encourages employees to use less aggressive chemicals, low-moisture cleaning methods and green cleaning processes. The District also implements environmental education programs that include classroom curricula and field activities in a network of interconnected environmental education centers.

Judging for the awards was coordinated by the Collins Center for Public Policy’s Sustainable Florida Program, with headquarters in Tallahassee and Miami.

View detailed information on all 15 finalists’ entries. For more information on the Governor’s Serve to Preserve: Green Schools Awards, visit www.freshfromflorida.com/offices/energy.