West Fargo, ND Teacher Wins National Environmental Prize

Montana and Rhode Island Educators Win Merit Awards

WASHINGTON, DC –Today the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded Sara Forness, a teacher at West Fargo High School, the 2015 Richard C. Bartlett Award in a ceremony in Washington DC. This award was given in conjunction with the 2015 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education (PIAEE Award), which Ms. Forness also received.

“The Bartlett Award recognizes teachers who have been able to leverage the natural environment to promote STEM learning in a manner that is innovative, effective and scalable,” said Carol Watson, Vice President for Programs at NEEF. “As our honoree, Ms. Forness reflects the NEEF philosophy that every school has a STEM lab right outside their classrooms.”

Every year the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), awards up to two teachers from each of EPA’s 10 regions with the PIAEE Award. From the pool of PIAEE Award recipients, NEEF selects a winner of the Bartlett Award, which comes with $5,000 in prize money. Two additional Merit Winners each receive $750 from NEEF, and this year’s winners hail from Billings, Montana, and Scituate, Rhode Island.

Sara Forness is being recognized for her hands-on approach to science lessons in her High School Field Biology and Environmental Science classes. Projects in which she has engaged her students include local water quality monitoring, forestry labs, soil sampling, insect ecology and bird identification. Results of their projects include production of public service announcements about invasive species awareness, creation of pharmaceutical drug drop-boxes to keep chemicals out of the water supply, and a recycling float in the annual fall parade.

NEEF established the Bartlett Award in 2007 to honor the late Richard C. Bartlett and distinguish teachers who best represent Richard C. Bartlett’s passion for leadership in environmental education. Richard Bartlett served as President and CEO of Mary Kay from 1987-1992 and was NEEF’s Board Chair from 2003 to 2007. He believed that the role of teachers in integrating environmental education is critical to preserving the natural world for future generations.