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Maine Residents Receive Prestigious Regional EPA Environmental Award in Ceremony Recognizing 40th Anniversary of Earth Day

Release Date: 04/22/2010
Contact Information: EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – April 22, 2010) – Two individuals from Maine will be honored on Earth Day in Boston’s Faneuil Hall as EPA presents the 2010 Environmental Merit Awards. During a celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the organization recognized significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem solving by 40 people and groups across New England.

The merit awards allow EPA to recognize individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. Given out by EPA since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.

“Today, on this milestone anniversary of Earth Day, I’d like to acknowledge and honor people, communities and businesses that have made significant strides in protecting New England’s health,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England.
Spalding noted, during ceremonies to honor the winners, that President Obama issued an Earth Day challenge to Americans to take action - in homes, in the community and in schools or businesses, to improve the environment.

Quoting Obama, he said, “It can be as simple as riding the bus or the subway to work, making your home more energy efficient, or organizing your neighbors to clean up a nearby park.”

The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals. The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Maine are:

Lifetime Achievement Merit Award:

W. Donald Hudson, Jr.

Don Hudson, who joined the staff of the Chewonki Foundation in 1966 and has been president since 1991, has inspired thousands of Chewonki students and teachers and has dedicated himself to environmental education and conservation throughout Maine. Hudson was head naturalist and natural-history teacher from 1982 through 1999 and has continued to teach a bird class, in which students refine their powers of listening and observation. Hudson was instrumental in creating Chewonki’s environmental education materials. In addition, his knowledge was instrumental in the first solid-waste management manual for Maine teachers, the Wild Gulf Project and Pathways to a Sustainable Future. In 1996, the year before Maine Yankee nuclear power plant was shut down, Hudson became director of the Land for Maine’s Future Program. When asked for his opinion about ultimate disposition of the property, Hudson suggested it be conserved for public enjoyment. Hudson conceived the Back River Trail as a way to link Wiscasset Village to Chewonki Neck, a trail that will extend 15 miles and be Maine’s longest coastal hiking trail outside Acadia National Park. In 2001, the Northern Forest Alliance invited Chewonki to consider acquisition of a commercial campground on the West Branch of the Penobscot River. A few months later, Chewonki was asked to consider owning the land underneath the commercial lease as part of the Katahdin Forest Project of The Nature Conservancy. Hudson raised the funds in 13 days and Chewonki now protects 75 acres of riverfront land for public, low-impact recreation. Also in 2001, Chewonki negotiated with the Island Institute, with Maine Coast Heritage Trust as mediator, to acquire and protect four Maine islands. This arrangement combined protection of coastal islands with open space and low-impact camping. Finally, in 2009, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Maine Yankee asked Huudson and Chewonki to manage the restoration of fish passage on Montsweag Brook, the largest stream in Wiscasset, as part of a natural-resources damages settlement. This requires the removal of Maine Yankee’s dam and will result in the return of as many as seven species of fish to the river.

Individual Merit Award:

Sophie Towle

South Berwick, Maine

Sophie Towle, a sixth grader, has remarkable energy for promoting composting, recycling and other environmental initiatives. A student at the Marshwood Middle School in Eliot, Sophie was first made aware of Climate Change in third grade and soon began to make a difference. She did the research that led her school to take on a composting program, and eventually spread the program to two other schools in her district. She researched ways to compost milk cartons in her school cafeteria and convinced schools in her district to do so after corresponding with the environmental coordinator for Tetra-Pak, one of the major makers of milk cartons. Sophie found a farmer in a neighboring town, met with him and she and her principal worked out a plan whereby the farmer would take milk cartons as well as organic waste. She then convinced the school to switch from polystyrene bowls to sugar cane bowls for the salad bar, which are also taken to the farm for composting. Sophie made bookmarks out of recycled materials and sold them to raise money for real silverware, until she found out the district would save money by switching. Sophie is a true model for what children can accomplish for the future of our planet

More Information:
Environmental Merit Awards (

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