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EPA Applauds Environmental Champions in New York

Release Date: 04/25/2008
Contact Information: Michael Ortiz (212) 637-3670,; Mary Mears (212) 637-3673,

(New York, N.Y.) Twenty two individuals and organizations from New York received top honors today from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for their work to protect the environment. Their exemplary efforts were recognized as they were presented with EPA Environmental Quality Awards by EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg during a ceremony today in EPA’s New York offices. In addition, the Agency recognized two recipients from New York for winning the nation-wide President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA).

“These exemplary environmental stewards have gone above and beyond for environmental change in local communities,” said Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “Let their extraordinary contributions remind us all that we can make our world a better place and individuals really inspire others and make a lasting difference.”

EPA selects Environmental Quality Award winners from non-profit environmental and community groups, individual citizens, educators, business organizations and members of the news media, as well as from federal, state, local or tribal governments and agencies. The honor is given to those individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to improving the environment and public health in EPA Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven federally-recognized Indian Nations. The Agency receives nominations for the awards from both inside and outside EPA. For information about the Environmental Quality Awards in EPA Region 2, go to

EPA also acknowledged the winner and honorable mention recipients in the annual Presidents Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) program. This program encourages young people to study the environment and better understand their relationship to it. The national competition is open to students from kindergarten through twelfth grade who actively participate in noteworthy environmental projects. Out of the hundreds of competitors, one winner is chosen from each of EPA’s ten regions and several others are chosen to receive honorable mentions. This year’s winners received the award from President Bush yesterday in a ceremony held at the White House. Raphael Spiro of Forest Hills, New York was one of the ten national winners of the PEYA award for creating a website to help others collect and distribute used books to improve the environment by reducing the number of books discarded and build awareness of the environmental benefits of reusing books. Connor Herdic of Champlain, New York received a PEYA honorable mention for helping educate the residents in the community about environmental stewardship. For more information about the PEYA program, go to



Adrienne Esposito
Citizens Campaign for the Environment
Patchogue, New York
As its Executive Director, Adrienne Esposito has encouraged Brookhaven National Lab to clean up its contamination and assisted in the creation of a plan that provides the maximum protection for public health without destroying key ecological components. She spearheaded the campaign to stop the dumping of dredged material into Long Island Sound and, in 2005 helped encourage an agreement between EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the states of New York and Connecticut to phase out the dumping of dredged materials.

Bailey Robertson
Alliance for the Protection of the Environment
Long Beach, New York
Bailey Robertson founded a non-profit organization called Alliance for the Protection of the Environment before her sophomore year at Long Beach high school. Among its initiatives is an Earth Day celebration for elementary school children designed to teach them about what they can do to protect the environment. The Alliance is also working with Relay for Life, an organization that plants trees commemorating the lives of cancer victims. Recycled cotton canvas bags created and sold by the Alliance help pay for purchasing and planting the trees.

Carol Meschkow
Concerned Citizens of the Plainview - Old Bethpage Community, Inc.
Plainview, New York
Carol Meschkow founded Concerned Citizens of the Plainview-Old Bethpage Community (CCPOBC), an organization dedicated to strengthening grassroots efforts to protect Long Island from environmental threats. The CCPOBC works in conjunction with the community, other organizations and environmental entities to promote education and awareness for a sustainable green Long Island. CCPOBC projects include open space preservation, groundwater protection and fighting environmental pollutants.

Dr. Edward Michalenko
Onondaga Environmental Institute
Syracuse, New York
As President of the non-profit corporation Onondaga Environmental Institute, Dr. Edward Michalenko administers major EPA grants to assist the Onondaga Lake Partnership in the restoration of the Onondaga Lake watershed, coordinate the Onondaga Creek Strategic Revitalization Plan Project, and implement environmental monitoring and cultural awarness projects on belalf of the Onondaga Nation. In addition, he is Supervisor of the Town of DeWitt, and as former Town Councilor, Dr. Michalenko designed Dewitt’s tiered Solid Waste Removal System and helped to establish a Town Park at Fiddler’s Green along Butternut Creek.

Edna Sussman
New York, New York
Ms. Sussman is counsel at Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney LLP, where her environmental interests and leadership are legend. She chairs the Renewable Energy Resources Committee of the American Bar Association and the Energy Committee of the New York City Bar Association. She serves as a member of the steering committee of the Westchester Global Warming Task Force; the president of Action for Tomorrow’s Environment; and, an executive board member of Environmental Advocates of New York.

James Hotaling
Cayuga county Soil and Water Conservation District
Jordan, New York
James Hotaling has been a long-time advocate for conservation and environmental education in Central New York. While serving as Executive Director of the Cayuga County Soil and Water District, he acquired funding for numerous conservation programs, championed the Envirothon high school competition in New York, and has worked closely with AmeriCorps to complete projects around the state. A special focus of his has been programs that engage and educate students about the importance of conservation.

Karen Washington
La Familia Verde
The Bronx, New York
Karen Washington is a community activist, working tirelessly on social, economic and environmental issues affecting the Bronx and New York City. A community gardener for 20 years, she is a board member of the New York City Community Garden Coalition as well as the co-founder of La Familia Verde Community Garden Coalition in the Bronx, a group whose basic principle is to preserve gardens. La Familia also operates a community based Farmer’s Market in the Bronx.

Kevin McAllister
Peconic Baykeeper, Inc.
Quogue, New York
Named “educator of the year” by the Times/Review Newspapers in 2004, Kevin McAllister is the founding President of Peconic Baykeeper, Inc. He successfully organized the five East End towns of Long Island to establish a federal “No Discharge Zone” designation for the entire Peconic Estuary. He organized and trained a corps of volunteers to monitor local water quality, and created the Bayscaping program which educates the community on sustainable landscaping and property management practices.

Robert Goldstein
Riverkeeper, Inc.
Tarrytown, New York
As general counsel for Riverkeeper, Robert Goldstein has led the organization’s legal team in protecting the Hudson River Estuary, the New York City drinking watershed, and the watershed of the Hudson. At Riverkeeper, he is also Director of Enforcement Programs and handles the Hudson River PCB Superfund Site for the organization. He is a member of the Community Advisory Group, and is involved with the community of Fort Edward in dealing with the pollution from the adjacent GE plants. As a professor at United States Military Academy at West Point, he is teaching their first course on Global Climate Change & Environmental Law

Robert DeLuca
Group for the East End
Bridgehampton, New York
For the last 15 years, Robert DeLuca has served as the President of Group for the East End, a nonprofit environmental and advocacy organization dedicated to preserving eastern Long Island. He also assisted in the creation of the Community Preservation Fund, a 2% real estate transfer tax that goes toward environmental funding in the five East End towns, and has advocated on numerous occasions for the funding of environmental programs.


Melissa Perry,
Destiny USA
Syracuse, New York
Due in large part to the efforts of Melissa Perry, Destiny USA’s Sustainability Director, Destiny USA is constructing a several million square foot ultra-green development located in Syracuse, New York. It will be operated without the use of fossil fuels and utilizes the best environmental technologies. Among its environmental commitments, Destiny USA will install on-site wind turbines, hydro electric turbines, solar panels, and will implement a clean diesel and transportation program. Switching to green power will have environmental benefits equivalent to taking more than 2,300 cars off the road for one year.

The New York Mets and New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
“Earth Day at Shea”
Queens, New York
The New York Mets hosted the unique “EPA Earth Day at Shea” on April 21, 2007. The team promoted EPA’s “Recycle on the Go” campaign to game attendees, encouraging them to recycle as they entered the stadium. The stadium grounds were used to promote the “Recycle on the Go” message and an on-field presentation was made in front of thousands of fans promoting the “Recycle on the Go” campaign even further. The New York City Parks and Recreation Department was essential to planning the day’s efforts, including security, organizational elements, and the collection of the recyclable goods in city vehicles.


Consulate General of Canada
Buffalo, New York
The Consulate General of Canada, with offices in Buffalo, New York, and under the direction of Canadian Consul General, Steve Brereton, continues to facilitate a number of environmental initiatives in the Niagara Region and Western New York by utilizing international cross-border networking. The Consulate General’s office engages partners in Canada and the United States to exchange ideas about environmental and economic issues, heritage and cross-border sustainability in the Great Lakes area.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy
Suffolk County
Hauppauge, New York
County Executive Steve Levy’s has put protecting the environment at the top of his agenda during the first four years of his administration. Under his guidance, Suffolk County is winning the race against overdevelopment, continues to make improvements to the quality of the county’s water, aggressively created policies and initiatives to reduce the county’s greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil.

Yonkers Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant
Westchester County Department of Environmental Facilities
Yonkers, New York
The Yonkers Joint Wastewater Treatment Plant became the first wastewater treatment plant in New York State to be certified to the ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems Standard in September 2006. To obtain the ISO 14001 certification, the environmental management system had to meet 17 specific, stringent requirements. Implementation of the environmental management system has greatly facilitated the implementation of numerous “Best Management Practices,” resulting in improved communication, plant operation, and preparation for the responding to emergencies.


Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Finger Lakes Institute
Geneva, New York
Science on Seneca (SOS) is a program for regional middle and high school students conducted onboard the 65-foot research vessel The William Scandling. Students are able to explore the living environment of Seneca Lake and all of the factors that impact it. Seneca Lake is the largest and deepest of the 11 Finger Lakes in New York. The Finger Lakes Institute has recently updated the program to include a pre and post-visit lesson that teachers and students can access on-line.


The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation
The Bronx, New York
The Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation provides a free hybrid electric shuttle for workers and residents on the Hunts Point peninsula. The clean air shuttle service in the Hunts Point neighborhood was made possible through grants from the Bronx Initiative for Energy and the Environment, which is supported by Bronx Borough President Aldofo Carrion Jr. and the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation.

Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment, Inc.
Brooklyn, New York
The Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment is a leading innovator in environmental education in New York City, with a diverse catalogue of over 100 unique educational courses that promotes a sustainable and healthy living environment in the city and helps residents gain a better understanding of their environment. Over 3,500 school-based programs enrich the lives of thousands of students and their families every year.

Pratt Center for Community Development
Brooklyn, New York
The Pratt Center for Community Development has trained hundreds of community leaders and organizations to implement effective community development strategies and support a wide array of successful public policy and community planning efforts. The Center has also provided mapping, architectural and urban planning resources to efforts to green the South Bronx, as well as technical services to the Bronx River Watershed Alliance. The Center has also helped create a green roof project in Queens, among other initiatives.

Queens Botanical Garden
Queens, New York
Queens Botanical Garden has been promoting sustainability concepts through partnerships, public education and its own administration. It has championed green building concepts and innovative storm water management technologies. It won the 2004 NYC Green Building award and it is one of EPA’s Greenscapes partners. It has utilized innovative landscaping practices to realize environmental results.

Upstate Freshwater Institute
Syracuse, New York
The Upstate Freshwater Institute (UFI) monitors the quality of New York’s public water supply. UFI has collaborated with institutions of higher education across the country, and has prepared multiple reports for EPA, provided testimony to Congress, produced 265 manuscripts for peer-reviewed journals, and published a book on its work with Onondaga Lake. The Institute also coordinated a job-shadowing program, community presentations, and research internships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students at local colleges and universities.
Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice
The Bronx, New York
The Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice’s (YMPJ) Center for Community Development and Planning , along with four partner organizations, was awarded a contract to lead a Brownfield Opportunity Area nomination study for the South Bronx Waterfront. YMPJ lobbied extensively for the restoration of the Bronx River, as a founding board member of the Bronx River Alliance. YMPJ also successfully worked to turn a concrete plant site into a public park, and lobbied to clean up Starlight Park.

PEYA Winner
Raphael Spiro
Forest Hills, New York
Raphael Spiro collects books and donates them to schools, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and wounded soldiers to reduce the volume of books and magazines in garbage dumps and landfills in New York City. His efforts led to the beginning of Bedsidebooks. To date, more than 200 students in 16 states have collected and distributed 44,000 books. Raphael has helped improve the environment by reducing the number of books discarded, while building awareness of the environmental benefits of reusing books.

PEYA Honorable Mention
Connor Herdic
“Enlighten Champion”
Champlain, New York
Connor Herdic developed his project to help the community of the Village of Champlain, New York understand that their actions can make a difference in improving the environment. By giving compact florescent light bulbs to neighbors and explaining their value, beginning a recycling program in his high school, and organizing road clean-ups, he was able to educate residents on environmental stewardship.