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BILOXI, Miss. (April 27, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Division announced the University of Southern Mississippi, USM Marine Education Center, as a 1st Place 2022 Gulf Guardian award winner in the Youth Environmental Education category for its Community Resilience in the Classroom project. The project promotes student awareness of watersheds and their connection to the Gulf of Mexico.

EPA is very excited to recognize the Gulf Guardian Partnership winners for this for this year,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Daniel Blackman. “The Gulf of Mexico is a precious resource and protecting it requires innovation and creative approaches, which these projects all embody.”

“The Gulf of Mexico is a vulnerable ecosystem that requires innovative approaches and proactive measures to protect this national resource.  Over the past two years, the Gulf Guardian award winners have continued to think “outside of the box” during challenging circumstances due to COVID-19.  These Gulf Guardian Awards are an important way to recognize the valuable efforts of all their hard work to protect the environmental health of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Marc Wyatt, Director, Gulf of Mexico Division.

 “Students who complete the community resilience project know about hurricanes but may not have thought about specific challenges communities need to prepare for, like getting relief supplies across town to an isolated community when roads are blocked. After students complete their team project, they get it. It’s a pleasure to see how they own their solutions and it’s an honor for our program to be recognized with a Gulf Guardian Award,” said Jessie Kastler, Director University of Southern Mississippi Marine Education Center

Community Resilience in the Classroom is an educational program developed by USM and Mississippi Alabama Sea Grant Consortium with local K-12 schoolteachers to promote student awareness of watersheds and their connections to the Gulf of Mexico through classroom and field instruction in climate change and rising sea level, especially high tide flooding and increased storm surge. Since 2016, over 1000 students from 12 schools in Mississippi and Alabama have completed the program. Selected teams have competed in six Stewardship Summits judged by several dozen community resilience professionals. In 2020 the full program of teacher training and classroom implementation was successfully completed online.

The Gulf of Mexico Division initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. Awards were given in 2019 in five categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations and partnership.

The Gulf of Mexico Division is a non-regulatory program of EPA founded to facilitate collaborative actions to protect, maintain and restore the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico in ways consistent with the economic well-being of the region. To carry out its mission, the Gulf of Mexico Division continues to maintain and expand partnerships with state and federal agencies, federally recognized tribes, local governments and authorities, academia, regional business and industry, agricultural and environmental organizations, and individual citizens and communities.

For more information about the U.S. EPA Gulf of Mexico Division go to: https://www.epa.gov/gulfofmexico.

                        

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