SAN FRANCISCO (August 4, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pacific Southwest Region recognized 2nd grade teacher Dana Swisher of Corte Madera, Calif. with the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE). Swisher is one of 11 winners of this award nationwide receiving the PIAEE for her work integrating sustainability into lesson plans at Neil Cummins Elementary School.
“This year’s award winners demonstrate how environmental education fosters our future stewards and innovators by connecting them to the soil, water and air around us,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “There is no better way to build future environmental leaders than by bringing children closer to their land and food. Congratulations to Dana for her leadership in the classroom and beyond.”
“As students matriculate at Neil Cummins Elementary, we see a growing awareness of and appreciation for environmental sustainability,” said Dana Swisher, 2nd grade teacher at Neil Cummins Elementary School in Corte Madera, California and Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators Award Winner. “The garden offers a place for students to be outside and develop an appreciation for the natural world.”
Swisher is recognized for integrating sustainability topics into education for students from Kindergarten through 5th grade with the school’s “Hawks Garden” project. She championed the garden to demonstrate to students how to sustainably grow food and protect native species through habitat restoration. Swisher engaged students and community members through teaching materials, lesson plans, coordinating garden workdays, exposing children and adults to pest management practices, and donating food to community organizations. Her efforts gave hands-on opportunities to over 600 students, including those living in apartments without gardens, to learn about growing their own food.
PIAEE was established by the 1990 National Environmental Education Act. The award program seeks to support and bring public attention to outstanding environmental projects performed by teachers who go beyond textbook instruction to utilize creative experiences and enrich student learning in K-12 education. The White House Council on Environmental Quality, in partnership with EPA, administers this award. View the full list of PIAEE recipients.