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EPA Administrator Recognizes Local Environmental Leader with President's Highest Volunteer Service Award

Release Date: 08/10/2007
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, (404) 562-8293, marraccini.davina@epa.gov

(ATLANTA – AUGUST 10, 2007) Today, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson honored Shirley Caldwell-Patterson with the President’s Volunteer Service Award in Nashville, Tenn. Caldwell-Patterson received the President’s top award, the Call to Service Award, for nearly 6,000 hours of volunteer service. Caldwell-Patterson’s work has benefited more than two million people who depend on the Cumberland Basin.

Her volunteer service began in 1997 when, at the age of 79, Caldwell-Patterson saw a film chronicling Victor Scoggins’s full-length swim of the Cumberland River in Tennessee and Kentucky and was appalled by the river’s condition. Never one to merely point out problems without suggesting solutions, Caldwell-Patterson and two associates founded the Cumberland River Compact the same year. Today, the Compact has grown into an organization of more than 4,000 people with a mission to enhance the water quality of the 697 mile-long Cumberland River and its tributaries.

“Today we honor Shirley Caldwell-Patterson for answering President Bush's call to serve a cause greater than herself,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Dedicated volunteers like Mrs. Caldwell-Patterson are inspiring others to join them in delivering America a brighter, healthier future."

Caldwell-Patterson’s mantra of “education, cooperation and communication” among citizens, businesses and agencies has helped the Compact achieve success. The Compact established seven watershed associations and aims to establish one in all 14 watersheds within the basin. Since 2005, the Compact provided more than 300 local officials with free training on water issues and policies. The Compact gave Tennessee its first EarthCraft-certified house after receiving one of 20 EPA demonstration projects to show builders how to construct more eco-friendly communities. Caldwell-Patterson was instrumental in facilitating Principles of Agreement between Kentucky and Tennessee to enhance water quality.

In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, President Bush called on Americans to make a difference in their communities through volunteering. He created USA Freedom Corps, an Office of the White House, to strengthen and expand volunteer service. Americans are responding to the President’s Call to Service.

The President's Volunteer Service Award was created at the President’s direction by the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The Award is available to youth ages 14 and under who have completed 50 or more hours of volunteer service; to individuals 15 and older who have completed 100 or more hours; and to families or groups who have completed 200 or more hours. For more information about the Award, please visit www.presidentialserviceawards.gov.

Go to www.volunteer.gov or call 1-877-USA-CORPS to find an existing volunteer service opportunity in your area, or to find more information about service programs, including national service programs such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and Citizen Corps. USA Freedom Corps is also highlighting youth volunteer service. Visit www.volunteerkids.gov for games and ideas to see how America's youth are making a difference.

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