Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 12, 2008) – Top honors for the 31st annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment were presented to Advanced Ecology Students from Kennard Elementary School in Queen Anne’s County and Joan Plisko, Technical Director, Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment. John Sparrow from Poolesville High School in Montgomery County was honored with the third annual James B. Coulter Award.

The Tawes Award is an environmental recognition program sponsored by MDE and the Maryland Petroleum Council (MPC) in the name of late Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes, who was also the state’s first secretary of the Department of Natural Resources. The award is open to any individual, civic, community, or non-profit entity that has demonstrated outstanding efforts to enhance Maryland’s environment over a period of time or with a single project.

This year marks the third presentation of the James B. Coulter Award to acknowledge environmental contributions by a government employee. Mr. Coulter served as Maryland’s second secretary of the Department of Natural Resources from 1971 to 1983.

“Sharing and giving of these citizens’ time and talents for environmental stewardship is something that Maryland treasures when protecting our State’s precious resources and the Chesapeake Bay,” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Their contributions give meaning to MDE’s work and advance their communities and our environment with learning, teaching, and hands-on efforts to join our mission in protecting and restoring the environment.”

The Tawes Youth Award winner, the Kennard Elementary School’s Advanced Ecology Students demonstrate a continuing commitment and passion for protecting the Chesapeake Bay Watershed through projects including: adding electronics recycling to the school’s recycling program, building a wetland habitat as a learning environment, researching the potential for a roof-top garden at the school, stenciling storm drains in Centreville, organizing a town cleanup, and conducting a raptor research project. Through these activities, the students learn about setting goals, defining responsibilities definition, prioritizing and assigning tasks, taking action, and assessing accomplishments.

The Tawes Adult Award winner, Joan Plisko is the Technical Director of Maryland Hospitals for a Healthy Environment (MD H2E). She is dedicated to enhancing and protecting the environment and protecting the health of Maryland’s residents. Ms. Plisko works tirelessly to encourage MD H2E partnerships with Maryland hospitals, and provides technical assistance to develop and implement environmental management and sustainability programs. She encourages the use of practices that reduce waste and conserve energy and other resources while protecting patient health. She has inspired citizens to take similar steps as a founder and leader on the Baltimore County Commission on Environmental Quality.

The James B. Coulter Award was presented to John Sparrow the Field Studies Coordinator for Poolesville High School’s Global Ecology Magnet Program. This field-based program incorporates environmental issues into science and social studies classes to create educational opportunities and develop an appreciation for the natural world. Mr. Sparrow leads activities such as a week-long camping trip to the Teton Science School to teach about different ecosystems, an overnight trip in partnership with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to study bay ecology, and backpacking trips along the Appalachian Trail to teach “leave no trace” hiking and camping. He advises the “Green Schools Club,” which creates opportunities to improve energy efficiency at the school. Mr. Sparrow’s enthusiasm and stewardship is passed through his students to the entire Poolesville community and beyond.

A panel of judges chooses the Tawes and Coulter award winners. For more information on the Tawes Award for a Clean Environment or the James B. Coulter Award, please call (410) 269-1850.