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DRI and A&WMA honor Pine Middle School science teacher Susan Kaiser

RENO – In an ongoing effort to support STEM educators in Nevada, Drs. Judith Chow and John Watson, international air quality experts from Nevada’s Desert Research Institute, presented Pine Elemenatry School science teacher Susan Kaiser with the Eastern Sierra Chapter of the Air & Waste Management Association's Excellence in Environmental Education Award during a ceremony before her students last week.

Also on hand to present the award was Genine Wright, chair of the Eastern Sierra Chapter of A&WMA and an Environmental Engineer with the Washoe County Air Quality Management Division.

DSCN1246Kaiser, who teachers seventh grade science, created a semester long elective class that teaches scientific concepts and lifelong skills to Pine Middle School students – the garden elective. Students follow the life cycle of the garden based on site at the school through each season and learn hands-on experience, observation, monitoring and data collection.

During the 2015 - 2016 school year, Kaiser helped Pine Middle School establish a “Life Lab” class designed to maximize the Pine Vegetable Garden and Native Plant Gardens as an outdoor classroom.

Kaiser is the second Pine Middle School teacher to receive the award and a graduate of the University of Nevada, Reno.

This annual award results from a competitive application process and recognizes Washoe County middle-school and high-school teachers who excel at motivating and educating students in science with an emphasis 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 and bestowed upon April Keller of Swope Middle School for her creative materials and activities on recycling and sustainability.

Recent recipients were Michael Ismari of Pine Middle School, Genevieve Dierenga of Wooster High School, and Leigh Metcalf of Reed High School.

“The Washoe County School District is very fortunate to have such a dedicated teacher as Mrs. Kaiser focused on environmental science,” noted Watson, a research professor at DRI who chaired this year’s committee and first proposed the award to the A&WMA Chapter in 2011.

Other members of the awards committee include Drs. Judith Chow and Alan Gertler, also DRI Research Professors, and Fred Cooper of the Eastern Sierra Chapter.

The original funds for this award resulted from an A&WMA International Specialty Conference that Dr. Chow organized on behalf of the Chapter.


DRI, the nonprofit research arm of the Nevada System of Higher Education, is a world leader in environmental sciences through the application of knowledge and technologies to improve people’s lives throughout Nevada and the world. For more information about DRI please visit

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.

Media Contact:
Justin Broglio
Communications Officer, Desert Research Institute
Ph: (775) 673-7610