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News Releases

News Releases from Region 06

EPA Honors Houston Teacher and Students from Kingsville and Dallas, Texas, at Presidential Environmental Youth Awards Ceremony

Contact Information: 
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (July 30, 2019) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler and White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chairman Mary Neumayr recently announced the 2019 awardees of the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) and the President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) during an awards ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. The winners included teacher Ryan D. Beeler from Spring Woods High School in Houston, Texas; a student group from Kingsville, Texas; and high school student Trevor Burke from Dallas, Texas.

“The Presidential Environmental Education Awards Ceremony is a day I look forward to each year because it is a time when we honor some of the best and brightest in environmental education and stewardship,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This year, CEQ Chairman Mary Neumayr joined me in celebrating our 200 student and teacher winners who represent excellence in environmental protection. Congratulations and thank you to all our winners for their dedication to protecting human health and the environment.”

“It was a pleasure to join Administrator Wheeler today as we recognized the achievements of students and teachers from across the country who are promoting environmental stewardship and furthering environmental education in their communities and schools,” said CEQ Chairman Neumayr. “These students are our nation’s next generation of leaders and are doing outstanding work.” 

“Texas teachers and students have a strong tradition of environmental leadership,” said Acting Regional Administrator David W. Gray. “This year’s winners are making a difference in their schools and their communities by stepping forward to improve our environment.”

The winners from EPA’s South Central Region in the K-5th grade category were students from AD Harvey Elementary School in Kingsville, Texas, known as the Harveyville Recycling Team. To reduce waste and make their school more sustainable, the students led projects such as replacing disposable cafeteria trays and water bottles, organizing a community plastic-bag recycling effort, and participating in the city’s “Keep Kingsville Beautiful” campaign.

In the 6th-12th grade category, winner Trevor Burke of Dallas, Texas, was recognized for his wide-ranging work to restore critically endangered blackland prairie habitat for the northern bobwhite quail. Trevor’s efforts have spanned five years and now include managing projects with hundreds of volunteers at several prairies.

Texas teachers were also recognized, with Ryan Beeler from Houston announced as a PIAEE winner and two Texas teachers receiving honorable mentions: Isabel Anaya of Charles L. Kuentz, Jr. Elementary School in Helotes, Texas, and Allison Adkinson of Tarver-Rendon Elementary School in Burleson, Texas.

These winners are among 19 educators and 200 students across the country recognized for their remarkable efforts that promote environmental education and stewardship. Eleven educators received the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators, and eight educators were recognized with an honorable mention distinction. Additionally, the 200 student award recipients - who worked as a team or individually on 17 projects - received the President’s Environmental Youth Award. Altogether, EPA received 162 project applications from 26 states.

Teacher and student awardees presented their projects at a poster session for attendees and EPA leadership, and EPA program offices hosted the “EPA Student Information Fair,” during which students and teachers interacted with staff to learn more about the agency’s work.

Established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, the PEYA program promotes local environmental awareness among our nation’s youth and encourages positive community involvement. EPA Headquarters works with staff located in EPA’s 10 regional offices in the selection of award recipients across the country.

Also established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act, PIAEE supports, encourages and nationally honors outstanding kindergarten through high school educators who integrate environmental and place-based, experiential learning into school curricula and school facility management across the country. Under the act, the White House CEQ assists EPA in administering the awards program.

The PIAEE program seeks to recognize, support and bring public attention to the outstanding environmental projects performed by these innovative teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to incorporate methods and materials that utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning. The program recognizes up to 20 elementary and secondary (K-12) education teachers, school administrators, and their local education agencies and provides funding to help support those educators in their environmental education work.

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