ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 12, 2010) – Today the Maryland Department of the Environment and the Maryland Petroleum Council presented the 33rd annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment to Sunset Elementary School’s Greenanators and Steven Hult of the London Towne Property Owners Association. Mark Ecker from the Maryland Department of the Environment was honored with the 5th annual James B. Coulter Award.
The awards are co-sponsored by MDE and the Petroleum Council to recognize youth, adults, and private and public organizations involved in the restoration and protection of Maryland’s natural resources. The Tawes award, given to both adult and youth awardees, is named in honor of the late Governor J. Millard Tawes, first secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The James B. Coulter Award, named after Maryland’s second DNR Secretary, acknowledges environmental contributions by a government employee.
"These dedicated environmental stewards not only help preserve the air, water, and the land that we share, they also inspire other Marylanders to take action," said Governor O'Malley.
“Today we are proud to honor the tremendous time and talents these environmental champions have given to protect our State’s precious resources and the Chesapeake Bay,” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “Their contributions to protect and restore our environment make their own communities a better place to live and benefit all Marylanders.
The Tawes Youth Award winner, the Greenanators from Sunset Elementary School in Pasadena, Anne Arundel County organized a school-wide recycling program. The Greenanators coordinated an assembly where they instructed their peers on how to recycle in the classroom and cafeteria, explained the benefits of reusable containers in their packed lunches, suggested healthy snacks to eat, and they collected pop tops for the Ronald McDonald House throughout the year. The Greenanators were awarded a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant that they used to purchase and install rain barrels in the schoolyard, and they have planted flowers and harvested seeds, built bird houses and feeders, and organized Earth Day celebrations. Currently, The Greenanators are producing a video to demonstrate how everyone can conserve water, energy, and waste at home with a slogan to “Conserve 10 percent in 2010.”
Stephen Hult is the winner of the Tawes Adult Award. Mr. Hult is currently the Secretary and Chair of the Erosion Committee of the Anne Arundel County’s London Towne Property Owners Association. The Association has installed over half a mile of “living shoreline,” which uses natural habitat elements, such as marsh, rather then hard bulkhead or riprap revetment, to protect shorelines from erosions. Living shorelines act as a “filter” to trap and reduce pollution, provide critical habitat for species, and reduce erosion and flooding. Living shorelines are also an adaptation measure recommended by Maryland’s Climate Change Commission to reduce the risk of rising shorelines caused by global warming. Mr. Hult has led the installation of six of these living shorelines, encompassing about 15 percent of the entire shoreline owned by the community. He has convinced the community association board to contribute a sizeable percentage of their budget and obtained numerous grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Resource Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Center, and Unity Gardens to fund the project. Currently Mr. Hult is “tutoring” other communities on how to apply for grants and how to install the living shoreline.
Mark Ecker, MDE’s Water Management Compliance Program Compliance Specialist who lives in Smithsburg, Washington County, received the James B. Coulter Award for his work as a government employee. Mr. Ecker has been with MDE for nearly 25 years, and his responsibilities as an inspector include erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, stormwater discharges associated with construction activities, waterway construction, non-tidal wetland impacts, and all citizen complaints related to water quality. Mr. Ecker is an extremely knowledgeable and detailed-oriented team player who puts environmental protection ahead of personal interests, and who is an excellent communicator able to work with all parties, from lawyers to laborers. Mr. Ecker’s work on inspection and enforcement of water quality issues is directly responsible for eliminating the potential for large amounts of sediment and pollutants from entering Maryland waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the complex projects he has overseen include the Food and Drug Administration’s White Oak facility, the National Naval Academy Medical Center, and the Intercounty Connector.
A panel of judges chooses the Tawes and Coulter award winners each year. For more information on the Tawes Award for a Clean Environment or the James B. Coulter Award, please call (410) 269-1850.
Photographs, as well as a list of previous winners, will be posted online at: http://mde.maryland.gov/programs/Marylander/Pages/tawes_awards.aspx