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EPA Administrator Christie Whitman Honors Environmental Achievements of Community Groups in U.S. Virgin Islands; Educators, Community Group and Youth Program in Virgin Islands Recognized for Environmental Accomplishments

Release Date: 04/16/2001
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(#01039) New York, New York – As part of its celebration of Earth Day, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Christie Whitman honored environmental educators and community groups from the U.S. Virgin Islands for their achievements in protecting the environment and human health. Administrator Whitman presented the winners with EPA Environmental Quality Awards and a President’s Environmental Youth Award and was the keynote speaker at the ceremony held today at the EPA’s Region 2 offices in New York City.

The EQAs are EPA’s way of taking its hat off to those who work the hardest to preserve and protect our environment and public health. The PEYAs recognize the outstanding environmental achievements of young people.

EPA Region 2 presents Environmental Quality Awards annually to individuals, nonprofit groups, educators, business people, government officials and journalists from New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who have made significant contributions to improving the quality of the environment in the Region. Winners are chosen by a panel of EPA employees who review nominations submitted from inside and outside the Agency.

The winners of the 2001 Environmental Quality Awards from the U.S. Virgin Islands are:

Environmental Education

Julie Wright
Cooperative Extension Service, University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin islands
Julie Wright is supervisor of the Natural Resources and Environment Program of the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of the Virgin Islands. But her personal commitment to the preservation of the natural resources of the Virgin Islands makes this more than just her job. It is a vocation, through which she reaches out to a wide swath of the community to provide technical assistance that promotes environmentally-responsible behavior. Her work to reduce toxic house and yard waste, conserve water and energy and assess septic systems are providing measurable improvements to the local environment.

Conservation Data Center
Virgin Islands Eastern Caribbean Center, University of the Virgin Islands
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

The Conservation Data Center has aggressively promoted environmental protection in the Virgin Islands through its training programs and special projects. It is the Geographic Information Systems, or GIS leader in the U.S.V.I., convenes the territory’s annual Nonpoint Source Conference, and consistently seeks out new opportunities to provide educational services that promote sound environmental management practices. It is also active in a number of partnerships to gather and disseminate environmental data in the area. Among them is a Rapid Ecological Assessment mapping project with the Nature Conservancy and the Virgin Islands Coral Reef Project conducted with the U.S.V.I. Department of Planning and Natural Resources and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Non-Profit Organization, Environmental or Community Group

Boys and Girls Club of St. Thomas
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

One of the greatest assets of the U.S. Virgin Islands is its beaches. Not only are they beautiful natural resources, the tourism dollars they generate make them critical to the island’s economy. Members of the Boys and Girls Club of St. Thomas have made it one of their civic responsibilities to reach out to community and business organizations to organize and raise support for area beach cleanups. One of their major partnerships is with the Hotel Association of St. Thomas and St. John, inspired by the recognition that what’s good for the environment of the U.S. Virgin Islands is also good for its economy.

The Winner of the 2001 President’s Environmental Youth Awards
Clean and Preen Summer Program Benner Bay Project
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Working under the sponsorship of the St. Thomas/St. John Anti-litter and Beautification Project, 56 students enrolled in the Clean and Preen Summer Program organized the Benner Bay Project to clean up the bay on the southeastern end of St. Thomas. Nearly 600 bags of garbage as well as tires, boat engines, batteries, refrigerators, freezers, plywood, radiators, galvanized aluminum, and bathtubs were collected through the project. The work opened up space for mangroves and seagrass beds critical to marine and wildlife and taught students about the effects of litter. The publicity they gathered also raised awareness among the general public about the litter problem, instilling a community-wide sense of responsibility for the island’s environment.