The Bethlehem Central School District Green Team this week was awarded a New York State Environmental Excellence Award for its leadership in protecting the environment, promoting energy efficiency and educating students about environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Only seven organizations statewide received awards, which are presented annually by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Middle School Assistant Principal Mark Warford and Director of Facilities and Operations Gregg Nolte, who together oversee the district’s Green Team initiatives, were received the award on Tuesday, November 14 from DEC acting Chief of Staff Julie Tighe. District Superintendent Jody Monroe and Science Department Supervisor Jennifer Gonyea were also on hand for the awards ceremony that was held at Union College in Schenectady.
Bethlehem was the only school district in the state to be recognized as part of this year’s awards celebration, which is in its 14th year.
In evaluating the district’s application, DEC officials noted that the BC Green Team provides “an impressive and wide-reaching educational model that has resulted in annual accomplishments that include recycling more than 96,000 pounds of paper, composting more than 20,000 pounds of food waste, donating more than 1,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce to the Bethlehem Food Pantry, and partnering with a local restaurant to offer a special menu featuring produce grown in the school’s gardens.”
Other honorees and projects included:
- Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development Stewardship of Aquatic Resources;
- Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’s Great Hudson River Revival Zero Waste Initiative;
- NYS Department of Transportation Region 4 and Seneca Park Zoo Society’s Pollinator Protection Project;
- Oneida-Herkimer Solid Waste Authority’s Go Green School Recycling Program; and
- Ulster County’s Net Carbon Neutral Operations.
Congratulating the winners, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “I am proud to present this year’s Environmental Excellence Awards to municipalities and organizations that are demonstrating outstanding leadership by adopting innovative solutions to protect our environment and strengthen our economy. These projects set a high bar for others to follow as we collectively address critical environmental issues such as fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, protecting pollinator habitats critical to our agricultural economy, advancing the use of electric vehicles, protecting the vitality of our waterways, and keeping potentially hazardous materials out of landfills. Congratulations to all of our outstanding award winners.”