April 20, 2006 – When the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hands out 39 Environmental Quality Awards Friday in New York, three V.I. residents will be on the list. Receiving EPA honors this year are St. Thomas architect Doug White, Junior Gardening and Ecology Academy founder Mario Francis and Coastal Zone Management and Outreach Coordinator Lillian Moolenaar.
The awards, which will be handed out at a 2 p.m. ceremony at the agency's New York City offices, recognize organizations and citizens for their help in protecting the environment and furthering environmental awareness.
EPA spokesman Chris Sebastian said Thursday that another ceremony will be held on St. Thomas in May.
All 39 recipients come from EPA's Region 2, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The awards are given out to coincide with Earth Day. Sebastian said the EPA has given out these awards since 1986.
Sebastian said an EPA committee decides who gets the awards. He declined to indicate the number of nominations.
White is receiving his award in the individual citizen category. Francis' comes under the nonprofit organization, environmental or community group category. Moolenaar's award is in the environmental education category.
Sebastian said White was honored for his work in starting the St. John-based Island Green Building Association, his various efforts in environmentally friendly architecture, and for his successful fight to register his GEM electric car.
"It's basically a lifetime achievement award," Sebastian said.
Francis, in addition to founding the Junior Gardening and Ecology Academy, founded the St. Thomas Audubon Society. He has long worked with children and environmental programs.
Sebastian said he was honored for that work as well as his tree conservation efforts.
He said Moolenaar received the award for her work in educational outreach, her community service projects and her work with the annual beach cleanup called Coastweeks.
"She's worked to teach people to be aware of protecting the marine and coastal environment," Sebastian said.
Department of Planning and Natural Resources spokesman Jamal Nielsen said Moolenaar coordinates all the outreach activities for the CZM program.
"We are so proud of her because she works tirelessly in getting information out about the CZM program," he said.
Unfortunately all three honorees were not available for comment Thursday. Moolenaar was on her way to New York to accept the award, and White and Francis could not be reached.
Last year, the Ocean Conservancy's Nicholas Drayton and The Biodiesel Project Group of the St. Croix Vocational Diesel Technology Program at St. Croix Educational Complex won awards.
In 2004, the St. Thomas-based Environmental Rangers and St. Croix Central High School science and math teacher Ann Marie Gibbs received awards.
In 2003, Carol Cramer-Burke of the St. Croix Environmental Association, Maho Bay Camps President Stanley Selengut, and Island Resources Foundation received awards.
Mayra Suarez-Velez, who then served as the marine advisor at the University of the Virgin Islands, was recognized in 2002.
In 2001, EPA recognized UVI's Conservation Data Center, the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Thomas, the Clean and Preen Benner Bay summer project on St. Thomas, and Julie Wright, who then worked for UVI's Cooperative Extension Service.
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