Leadership: Awards for Excellence

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Award logo

NAAEE is proud of the many accomplishments of our members and partner organizations. Each year, we present a variety of awards at our annual conference to highlight outstanding achievements in environmental education. Is there someone you’d like to recognize? Information on how to nominate an individual or organization is posted here when the call for nominations opens.

The Call for Awards Nominations is now closed.

Walter E. Jeske Award

The Walter E. Jeske Award is NAAEE’s most prestigious award, given each year to recognize service to NAAEE and leadership within the field of environmental education. This award was established to honor Walt Jeske, Chief of the Education and Publications Unit with the U.S. Soil Conservation Service. Jeske was a dedicated member of the NAAEE Board of Directors, and an outstanding environmental educator until his death in 1981.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

Qualifications

  • An active NAAEE member with at least five years of membership
  • Occupies, or has occupied, a leadership role in NAAEE and has made leadership contributions to the field of EE in addition to contributions emanating directly from his/her salaried duties
  • Must have received clear recognition of her/his overall contributions among EE colleagues and within NAAEE
  • Must have worked in the field of EE for at least 15 years
Outstanding Service to Environmental Education

The Outstanding Service to Environmental Education Awards are presented to individuals and organizations to recognize their efforts to lead EE efforts at the local, regional, and global levels.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

Criteria for selecting individuals or organizations are that they must have made a significant contribution to EE, and should be known for one or more of the following:

  • Visible contributions to EE (e.g. research, innovations, curricula, legislation, publications, etc.)
  • Dedicated service in the field of EE
  • Outstanding environmental contribution by a person whose primary function is not environmental (e.g. a politician supportive of EE programs or legislation, etc.)
  • Excellence in reporting environmental issues in the media for the purpose of educating the public (e.g. a writer; newspaper, radio, or television program that regularly gives space or time to present environmental information; or any network, foundation, or entity that makes such reporting possible)
Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service

The Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service Award is presented annually to an individual in recognition of their leadership in educating and promoting action to support environmental education and environmental justice at the local, state, or global level.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

The award recognizes a person that demonstrates the values and inner strength of Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs. These individuals were unwilling to stand by as they and others suffered injustices because of their skin color or heritage. Rosa Parks worked tirelessly to address social injustices while Grace Lee Boggs worked to remedy environmental injustices (scroll to bottom of page for more detailed information on both leaders).

The person receiving The Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Outstanding Service Award must have made significant contributions to environmental education efforts focused on the key attributes of sustainability as defined in the 1977 Tbilisi Declaration, including environmental, economic, and social issues, with an emphasis on environmental health, environmental justice, poverty, jobs, and other issues that impact people of color, under-served audiences, urban audiences, and others who have been disenfranchised. This award is also designed to recognize individuals and organizations who are working to make environmental education more relevant to the lives of all global citizens.

The Rosa Parks and Grace Lee Boggs Award will be presented to a person of color.

*Persons of color, as used in this award, refers to individuals whose racial/ethnic background is Asian, Black/African, First Nations, Latino/Hispanic, Native American, Pacific Islander, or other minority group.

Community leaders, educators, researchers, and others who are making significant contributions to their community are eligible candidates for this award.

The recipient should display or have made one or more of the following contributions:

  • Used environmental issues or situations for motivating youth considered underrepresented in the environmental movement (as defined above) to reach their highest potential by providing them with hands-on experiences that build practical day-to-day life skills.
  • Used environmental education to empower community residents to address local environmental concerns.
  • Dedication to service and leadership that encourages the participation of a diversity of audiences in environmental education.
  • Made visible contributions in environmental education by promoting diversity and equity through research, innovations, curricula, legislation, publications, or advocacy.
  • Used environmental education to work with individuals considered underrepresented in the environmental movement and the field of environmental education.
  • Demonstrated excellence in educating the public about environmental issues as they relate to social justice, health, community well-being, and environmental justice through print, electronic, or visual media.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks spent her life as a civil rights leader advocating so that others could learn to “reach their highest potential” regardless of their ethnicity or heritage.  Mrs. Parks was known for her "Quiet Strength," which the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development uses to engage and empower youth in hands-on experiences to build practical day-to-day living skills.

The Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development promotes a multicultural curriculum and participation in activities that provide cross-cultural perspectives. Their chapters and learning centers are represented in the U.S., Bahamas, and Canada. One of their goals is to instill “a global and inclusive perspective”. To read further about Mrs. Parks and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development visit: www.rosaparks.org

Grace Lee Boggs

Grace Lee Boggs, the daughter of Chinese immigrants and a doctoral Ivy League graduate in philosophy, believed in “the power of ideas to change ourselves and our reality.” Living to be 100 years old and passing on October 5, 2015, Dr. Boggs was an active organizer at the grassroots level to revitalize communities. 

Dr. Boggs’ was well known in her hometown of Detroit, where her friends created the Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership. But her reach extended far beyond Detroit, with an appearance  on the Bill Moyers Journal on PBS and her environmental justice efforts to encourage urban gardening as a way to sustain ourselves, build community, and reduce global warming. To read further about Dr. Boggs visit: www.boggscenter.org

Outstanding Affiliate Organization

The Outstanding Affiliate Organization Award is given annually to recognize significant contributions by NAAEE Affiliate organizations to the field of environmental education.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

This award is presented to an Affiliate that demonstrates substantial accomplishments in one or more of the following areas:

  • Consistent and ongoing services to enhance EE, such as statewide and regional conferences, newsletters, etc.
  • Growth in dues paying membership and organizational capacity of state, provincial, territorial, or regional EE association
  • Completion and implementation of strategic long-range plan for the association
  • Development of new initiatives that have enhanced the quality and availability of local EE programs to serve all communities of the state, province, territory, or region
  • Establishment of reciprocal partnerships with other state, provincial, territorial, or regional associations to promote and enhance EE capacity and/or delivery of programs for all people
  • Support any action towards meeting NAAEE goals and concerns
Outstanding Contributions to Research in Environmental Education

The Outstanding Contributions to Research in Environmental Education Award is presented each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to environmental education through research in the following areas:

  • Conducting EE research of a substantive nature that contributes to the theory and practice of EE;
  • Reporting of EE research at professional conferences or in refereed journals or other research publications; and
  • Promoting EE research through activities, such as serving on research committees or on editorial boards of research publications, teaching and/or serving on thesis committees, and designing training programs in research and evaluation.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members (please log in to view the form). If you need technical support please email eepro@naaee.org. If you would like to prepare your answers offline before uploading through this multi-step form, you can download the list of questions.

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

K–12 Educator of the Year

The K–12 Educator of the Year Award is presented to an individual who is recognized for their exemplary efforts in promoting environmental education in K–12 classroom settings, as well as engaging community organizations to create a more sustainable future.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

Criteria:

This person must live in one of the U.S. 50 states, Mexico, or the Canadian provinces or territories and have made a significant contribution to EE in one or more of the following ways:

  • Received clear recognition of her/his overall contributions among EE colleagues, and within their state or provincial EE association
  • Made visible contributions to the field of EE (e.g. research, legislation, publications, etc.)
  • Provided more than 10 years of dedicated service in the field of EE
  • Demonstrated innovation in incorporating EE into lesson plans
  • Demonstrated the ability to link formal and nonformal education, to advance environmental education
  • Demonstrated leadership in mentoring colleagues to use the environment as a context for learning
Higher Education Educator of the Year

This award is presented to an individual who is recognized for their efforts in promoting environmental education and utilizing the environment as a context for learning in their teaching. 

The Call for Award Nominations deadline has passed.

Please note: Nominations may only be submitted by NAAEE members

Criteria:
This person must have made a significant contribution to EE in one or more of the following ways:

  • Has received clear recognition of her/his overall contributions among EE colleagues, and within their state OR provincial EE Association.
  • Has made visible contributions to the field EE (e.g. research, legislation, publications, etc.)
  • MORE THAN 10 YEARS OF dedicated service in the field of EE
  • Demonstrated innovation in incorporating EE into course work.
  • Demonstrated leadership in mentoring colleagues to use the environment as a context for learning.
Board Chair's Award

The Board Chair’s Award (previously the President’s award) is given at the discretion of the sitting NAAEE Board Chair to recognize exemplary achievements in the field of environmental education.

Director's Award

The Director’s Award is given to an individual or organization who has made a significant contribution to NAAEE and the field of environmental education, and is given at the discretion of the Executive Director of NAAEE.

Distinguished Leadership in Environmental Education

The Distinguished Leadership in Environmental Education Award recognizes an individual who has created systemic change to strengthen the field of environmental education.

Pepe Marcos-Iga Award for Innovation in Environmental Education

The Pepe Marcos-Iga Award for Innovation in Environmental Education, which recognizes achievements in using innovation to advance the field of EE. The award is in honor of Pepe Marcos-Iga, an unwavering advocate for the field of EE as NAAEE board member and past president, who passed away in 2018.