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Erie County Department of Environment and Planning to hold awards program at Johnnie B. Wiley Sports Pavilion

Fri, Apr 19th 2024 03:05 pm

Monday is Earth Day; celebration will honor award-winners from Erie County Environmental Management Council Environmental Excellence Awards, WNY Stormwater Coalition rain barrel painting contest

Submitted by the Press Secretary to the County Executive 

The Erie County Department of Environment and Planning has announced an award ceremony at 5 p.m. Monday April 22, at an Earth Day celebration at the Johnnie B. Wiley Amateur Athletic Sports Pavilion (1100 Jefferson Ave., Buffalo). The program will honor award-winners for two different programs: the Erie County Environmental Management Council Environmental Excellence Awards and the WNY Stormwater Coalition rain barrel painting contest. The Earth Day celebration will continue through 7:30 p.m. and will feature giveaways, crafts, food samples, electric vehicles, and information on a variety of environmental programs.

The Erie County Environmental Management Council Environmental Excellence Awards highlight local projects implemented by municipalities and/or non-for-profit organizations that have helped to improve our community’s environment. The top 3 winners this year are:

•The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, a local project organized by the Monarch of Infinite Possibilities LLC, the Michigan Street African American Heritage Corridor, and the NAACP Buffalo Branch, focuses on improving the environment. Over the past four years, these organizations have grown the event from a handful of volunteers to hundreds, increasing partnerships and expanding the number of sites and projects each year.

•The Frontier High School ecology club tree project, an annual program for the past 17 years, teaches the importance of trees through classroom-based presentations and tree seedling distributions. The project is sustained by fundraisers and with coaching by master gardener volunteers from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Erie County. The club’s students prepare an education plan for teaching all classroom levels of elementary students about the benefits of trees and tree-planting and care, including hands-on experience by using skits, props, activity booklets, a seedling planting demonstration, and a coloring contest.

•The Omega Mentoring Programs’ “Climate Connections for Buffalo’s East Side Youth” project builds relationships with organizations so that students and mentors can actively learn about opportunities to take climate action, both preparing for and working to reduce the impact of climate change. In turn, the mentors and Just Buffalo Literary Center work with the students to synthesize this information and share it with the broader community. Sessions are held every other Monday evening during the school year to engage in programming, volunteer opportunities, writing projects, and tours that correlate to Erie County’s Community Climate Action Plan.

ECDEP, in partnership with the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, will also present awards to the winning entries in the 2024 rain barrel painting contest. Entrants were asked to capture a stormwater pollution prevention/water resource theme in a vibrant, eye-catching way in an effort for contestants to learn more about stormwater pollution prevention and how it keeps pollutants out of our local waterways. As an added benefit, each rain barrel can save up to 1,000 gallons of water per year. Placing the rain barrels in public places after the contest further reinforces the message of the practice.

“Using rain barrels is a great way to reduce stormwater runoff and help to protect a precious natural resource,” Deputy Erie County Executive Lisa Chimera said. “I was extremely honored to serve as a judge for this contest. Anything we can do to prevent pollution and protect our environment should be embraced. These beautiful rain barrels are a perfect way to raise awareness about protecting our environment, especially with our young people. I want to thank the Department of Environment and Planning, the Western New York Stormwater Coalition, and all of our community partners for their efforts with this project.”

Prizes are being awarded to the highest scoring barrels as follows:

•Elementary, grades K-4:

  • First place: Frederick Law Olmsted BPS No. 64 (teacher: Tatum Colantino)
  • Second place: Southtowns Catholic (teacher: Mary McCabe)
  • Third place: North Park Community School BPS No. 50 (teacher: Laura Minor)

•Middle school, grades 5-8:

  • First place: Waterfront Elementary BPS No. 95 (teacher: Tara Hudson)
  • Second place: Hillery Park Elementary BPS No. 27 (teacher: Juliana Curtis)
  • Third place: Mill Middle School (teacher: Kristen Hojnacki)

•High school, grades 9-12:

  • First place: Frontier Senior High School (teacher: Mike Delmont)
  • Second place: Eden Senior High School (teacher: Lisa Nicastro)
  • Third place: McKinley High School (teacher: Kathryn Duane)

For more information on the Erie County Department of Environment and Planning, click here; or on the Environmental Management Council, click here; or on the WNY Stormwater Coalition, click here.

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