By Judith Enck
Protecting human health and the environment is our mission at EPA, but it isn’t just a job for EPA. No one individual or group can do it alone – it takes all of us. Informed, engaged community members have an important role to play in protecting the environment.
Each year, EPA Region 2 (which includes New York, New Jersey, eight Indian nations, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) honors individuals, businesses and non-profit groups with Environmental Champion Awards for their dedication to protecting public health and the environment. Awards are given out for achievements in environmental stewardship. Nominations are being accepted through March 1, 2016. Individuals and organizations chosen for the award are trailblazers who promote better ways of doing things for the health of their neighborhoods and the planet. I believe every community has environmental champions.
If last year’s award winners serve as a signal for what’s to come, I fully expect to be astounded by the ingenuity and commitment of this year’s award winners. Last year I traveled to the Bronx to award community leader, Troy Lancaster, with an award. In 1996, Mr. Lancaster established the Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary, 7.5 acres of parkland in the South Bronx as habitat for migrating birds. The park is part of New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation system and serves as a youth educational facility, where the importance of neighborhood conservation is taught in a hands-on learning environment through activities, such as art workshops, birdwatching and annual harvest events. Not just a stopover for migrating birds, the Dred Scott Bird Sanctuary is a much-needed green space in the Bronx.
The work that Mr. and Mrs. Lancaster and their family and others do for the environment is invaluable, and this is only one example of the great work being done in our region. I urge you to look closely around your community – there’s important environmental work being done there. Thank your fellow community members for safeguarding your community by nominating them for this prestigious award.
Visit EPA’s Environmental Champion Award website for criteria and nomination instructions: http://www.epa.gov/aboutepa/environmental-champion-awards.
About the Author: Judith Enck is the Regional Administrator of EPA Region 2’s Manhattan office, which serves New York, New Jersey, Eight Indian nations, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.