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Weeks Bay NERR and Eastern Shore Art Center, Receives Third Place Gulf Guardian Award in the Partnership Category

Release Date: 06/07/2013
Contact Information: William McBride, 404-562-8378 (direct), 404-562-8400 (main), mcbride.william@epa.gov

Stennis Space Center, MS – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced Weeks Bay NERR and Eastern Shore Art Center will receive a Third Place 2013 Gulf Guardian Award in the Partnership Category for their Squeaky Sneakers Program. The awards ceremony will be held on June 26, 2013, at the Tampa Bay Grand Hyatt beginning at 6PM.

Squeaky Sneakers, an interdisciplinary program that marries art and informal science education as a teaching tool, was so named because participants’ wet shoes “squeak” while exploring Weeks Bay Reserve. Led by veteran art educator Nancy Raia, Community Arts and Outreach Director at the Eastern Shore Art Center and Angela Underwood, experienced Weeks Bay NERR Biologist and Education Specialist, the program promotes conservation of estuaries and other coastal resources through immersion in experiential environmental education and innovative forms of artistic expression.

Since 2008, Squeaky Sneakers has delivered experiential environmental education and art to over 500 participants ranging in age from preschool to senior citizens with a variety of abilities and backgrounds. Squeaky Sneakers strives to enhance ecological awareness and protection among culturally diverse and underserved communities and has worked with groups including Fairhope Rotary Youth Club, Foley Snook Youth Club, The Arc of Baldwin County, Fairhope UMC’s Shepherd’s Place, Camp Horizon Girls Wilderness Program, Baldwin County Public Schools Summer Programs, and Southwest Alabama Regional School for the Deaf and Blind. Additionally, Squeaky Sneakers trains other educators to extend the program’s reach.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.

“This year’s Gulf Guardian Award recipients are to be commended for providing environmental leadership to protect and restore one of our nation’s most treasured natural resources, the Gulf of Mexico. These Award recipients are true environmental stewards and protectors of this vital ecosystem,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator A. Stanley Meiburg.

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development

Ben Scaggs, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said, “Given all the incredible challenges that the Gulf has faced over the last several years and the work that has continued with strength and vigor despite what sometime seem like overwhelming obstacles, it is difficult to adequately and succinctly express the community value of the awards and the role they play in reminding us of what yet needs to be done while giving us all the energy and optimism to stay the course.”

For more information regarding Weeks Bay NERR and Eastern Shore Art Center, please contact, Angela Underwood, Phone: (251) 928-9792; or Email: Angela.underwood@dcnr.alabama.gov

Editor’s Note: For more information about the Gulf Guardian Awards and the Gulf of Mexico Program, call the Gulf of Mexico Program Office at 228-688-3726 or visit our web site at http://www.epa.gov/gmpo.

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