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Frequent Questions about the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators

The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students. Up to two teachers from each EPA's 10 regions, from different states, will be selected to receive this award.

I am interested in applying for the PIAEE award. However, I co-teach Environmental Science with a fellow teacher. Is it possible for us to apply together as a team?

Thank you for your interest in the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators. While it is possible that multiple teachers from the same local education agency and the same school may apply, applying as a team is not recommended. However, understanding the importance and [often critical] nature of teaching teams that work to integrate environmental education into classroom(s) and school(s), there are ways of writing an application for submission for an individual teacher that also mention and emphasize the collaborative efforts of a teacher team through recognition of multiple individuals with supportive information in the essays and sample teaching materials about collaborative work to accomplish a greater goal of integrating environmental education into curricula.

Is there a limit to the word count?

No, there is not a word count limit for the essay question responses. However, please note that the total length of the essays must be 9 or fewer pages.

Are there guidelines for the margins for the sample teaching materials?

Yes, essays margins should be no smaller than 1 inch.

Do letters of recommendation have to accompany the application?

Yes. If you are submitting your application by email, please electronically attach copies of letters (in PDF or Word format) to accompany the application email. Send application packets by email to It is important that all documents with the application be submitted in one package to ensure that all materials for each applicant are accounted for and not separated. The application documents and letters may also be submitted by commercial delivery service (Fed Ex, UPS, etc).

Who qualifies to write the letter of recommendation from a fellow teacher?

A fellow teacher is usually a teacher whom you currently work with at your school, or in your school district. A recommendation letter from a fellow teacher may also come from a teacher whom you have previously worked with or currently work with at another school or district. A letter may also come from a recently retired teacher or transferred teacher whom you have worked with on a regular basis.

Whom does this award recognize?

This program recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

I am a student and I think my teacher deserves this award. Can I nominate my teacher?

No. As of the 2014-2015 award period, we no longer accept nominations. Please encourage your teacher to apply and to submit all of the required supporting documents.

I am a teacher's aide. Am I eligible for this award?

No. You would not meet the eligibility criteria for this award. To be eligible for this award, you must teach K-12 full time in a public school (including a Bureau of Indian Education-funded school) that is operated by a local education agency (e.g., a school district), and have at least 5 years of K-12 teaching experience, including at least 3 years of teaching an environment-based curriculum and/or environmental education.

What is a local education agency?

A local education agency, or LEA, is a public board of education or other public authority within a State which maintains administrative control of public elementary or secondary schools in a city, county, township, school district, or other political subdivision of a state.

How do I know whether the charter school where I teach is a local education agency?

Some charter schools are considered to be local education agencies under State law. You should contact the school administration to determine if this is the case for your school and, if necessary, contact the office in your state’s State Education Agency (such as the state’s Department of Education) that deals with charter schools.

What are the rules for more than one teacher at the same local education agency applying?

There are no rules that would prohibit this. Multiple teachers can be nominated from the same local education agency, or even the same school.

There are more than three people who can provide information about my environmental education activities. Can I submit more than the required three letters of support?

Sending additional letters of support will not help your application, although your application will not be disqualified if you do. The reviewers will read only the first letter they come across from the local education agency or school administrator, similarly for the first letter from a fellow teacher, and similarly for the first letter from a past or current student. No additional letters will be read or reviewed.

What is the deadline for submitting an application for this award?

Please see the application page for submission dates and related information.

Where do I send my application?

Please see the application page for how to submit your application.

I have discovered a way to improve part of my application. May I submit a revised application, and, if so, how will it be considered?

If you submit more than one application (such as an application that was missing some documents and a later application that includes them), the last application submitted by the deadline will be one considered. This means that if the last application sent by the deadline is missing some documents or some entries in a form, those items will not be considered even if they were included in an earlier submission of your application.

When will I be notified about my application status?

Names of the award winners are expected to be announced in spring. Finalists will be notified also. Each teacher receiving an award will be notified of her or his selection in writing prior to the public announcement. The administrator (e.g., superintendent) of the awardee’s local education agency (e.g., school district) will be notified of the teacher’s selection. The teacher and the administrator will be asked to provide the names of local or regional newspapers, TV/radio stations, websites, or other public media to receive press releases about the awards.

Teachers selected for Honorable Mention (one or more per EPA Region) will be notified in writing and will receive a certificate. This notification is also expected to be in spring.

I am a teacher who meets all of your criteria. If I'm selected to receive this award, can I use a portion of the money to fund a class field trip to the zoo?

No. Section 8(e)(3) of the National Environmental Education Act states the awardees shall use the award money to further their professional development in environmental education.

Can the awardee's local education agency use its award money to enhance its environment (e.g., planting trees, bushes, etc.)?

No. Section 8(e)(2) of the National Environmental Education Act states that any award monies are to be used to fund environmental educational activities and programs and prohibits the use of award monies for construction costs, general expenses, salaries, bonuses, or other administrative expenses. In addition, the program’s announcement notes that the funds to the local education agency must be used in support of the teacher awardee’s environmental activities or programs.

I have been selected to receive this award. At the time of my submission, I had anticipated a classroom teaching assignment at my current local education agency for the coming year; however, I am no longer working at that particular institution. How does this affect the award monies?

We have determined that the award shall follow the teacher. Therefore, if the teacher is no longer employed by the LEA listed on their application, the teacher awardee would receive the award; however, no award will be made to the teacher’s previous LEA. If the teacher will be teaching in another institution under the control of the same LEA, the LEA award will be made in addition to the teacher award.

What is the Bartlett Award?

The Richard C. Bartlett Award was established by the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) in 2007 to distinguish teachers who best represent Richard C. Bartlett’s passion for and leadership in environmental education.

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