FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 13, 2013
In an ongoing effort to support STEM education leaders in Nevada, Drs. Judith Chow and John Watson, international air quality experts from Reno's Desert Research Institute, presented Dr. Genevieve Dierenga, an Environmental Science and Biology Instructor at Wooster High School with the Eastern Sierra Chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association's Excellence in Environmental Education Award during a ceremony before her students on May 13.
The award follows a week of Teacher Appreciation Week festivities at Wooster High School and the 2013 DRI Nevada Medal event, which bought renowned geneticist Dr. Nina Fedoroff to visit with Mrs. Dierenga's students and tour their unique aquaponics lab.
Dr. Dierenga was honored for her innovative courses in environmental science during which students conducted original research on different growing practices. She obtained an external USDA grant to sponsor this research, finding that aquaponically-grown lettuce could be of similar quality to that grown in soil and presented a practical alternative for urban gardeners. She has also introduced environmental concepts into the biology curriculum, thereby relating scientific concepts to students’ everyday life.
This annual award recognizes Washoe County middle-school and high-school teachers who excel at motivating and educating students in science and who emphasize the implications of the basic science material on current environmental issues. It includes a plaque plus a $250 honorarium for the recipient and a $250 grant to the school to continue the advancement of environmental education. The award was established in 2011, with the first honorarium bestowed upon Ms. April Keller of Swope Middle School for her creative materials and activities on recycling and sustainability.
“We’ve received many outstanding applications over the last three years,” said Dr. John G. Watson, a Research Professor at DRI who chaired this year’s committee and first proposed the Award to the AWMA Chapter in 2011. “I hope that the chapter will continue this activity and would encourage past applicants to resubmit in the future. The Washoe County School District is fortunate to have such a large reservoir of dedicated and innovative teachers.”
Other members of the Awards Committee include Drs. Judith Chow and Alan Gertler, also DRI Research Professors, and Mr. Fred Cooper, current Chair of the Eastern Sierra Chapter. The original funds for this award resulted from an International Specialty Conference that Dr. Chow organized on behalf of the Chapter.
About Air & Waste Management Association
The Air & Waste Management Association is an international professional society with the mission of improving environmental knowledge and decisions by providing a neutral forum for exchanging information. It has Sections and Chapters in all 50 states and many other countries. The Eastern Sierra Chapter meets four or five times per year to learn about environmental issues and sponsors awards and scholarships through its fundraising activities.