Seven educators from the Columbia Basin have been recognized by the Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN) for their excellence in encouraging stewardship and sustainability through environmental education. Through their experience, collaborative efforts and mentorship, they have collectively made a deep and lasting impact on our entire region.
2019 Awards of Excellence were presented to the following educators:
· Doris Hausleitner (Castlegar) for her passion and dedication to connecting post-secondary students with the knowledge, skills and connections to be successful in the environmental field;
· Joe Pierre (Cranbrook/ʔaq̓am) for his mentorship in connecting Indigenous knowledge and land-based learning with students and teachers across the learning region;
· Ingrid Liepa (Kimberley) for her leadership in climate change education and action across communities in the Columbia Basin;
· Melissa Flint (Creston) for supporting students through a variety of programs in developing a deeper understanding of the connections between humans and the earth;
· Kate Ruoss (Cranbrook) for building capacity for community support as a primary teacher and through her leadership with the East Kootenay Environmental Educators Association (EKEEPSA);
· Laurie Neeve (Kimberley) for consistently leading by example as an intermediate teacher and through her leadership with the Rocky Mountain Place-based Learning Network;
· Jenn Means (Kimberley) for her passion and willingness to share through her role as a secondary teacher and through her leadership with the Rocky Mountain Place-based Learning Network.
Award recipient, and ʔaq̓am Nasuʔkin (Chief), Joe Pierre reflected that “We never do this type of work for awards, we do it because we love the environment, we love working with youth and we love the idea of life-long learning. For me the greatest “reward” is when a former student comes up to me and enthusiastically says, “Kiʔsuk kyukyit Mr. Pierre”, and I think to myself, “Hey that kid just spoke Ktunaxa”.
Cranbrook teacher Kate Ruoss shared that “There are wonderful educators throughout the Columbia Basin who make it a daily practice to appreciate nature and this award inspires me to continue to teach about our wonderful area.” Laurie Neeve, a teacher from Kimberley, echoed this, sharing that “I feel appreciated and motivated to press on with a little extra spark and I’m sure that all the other recipients felt the same.” And Melissa Flint, a community educator from Creston, exclaimed "I am so happy and humbled to be part of the celebration of truly inspired educators!"
These recipients are nominated by their peers and nominations are reviewed and adjudicated by a committee made up of past recipients. CBEEN Director and Awards Committee Representative, Janet Kuijt, reflected that “Being part of the CBEEN Awards of Excellence Review Committee begins as a daunting task but always leaves me inspired. It is a such a wonderful celebration of the continuous growth of environmental education in our region as well as the incredible educators who are leading these amazing initiatives."