Teachers, students eligible for environmental awards

Two green friendly competitions -- one with a cash award -- have been announced.

Those interested will have to act quickly. The deadline to apply is Dec. 31.

One is available to teachers, the other to students. Here are the details:

Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators: The White House Council on Environmental Quality has partnered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for this award, which recognizes outstanding K-12 teachers who employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.

Two teachers from each of the EPA's 10 regions will be selected to receive the $2,000 award. Find out how to apply at http://www.epa.gov/enviroed/teacheraward/index.html.

President's Environmental Youth Award: Students are encouraged to enter projects that make a difference in their communities. There are few details on what officials are looking for, but past winners provide some clues.

The 2010 winners included Boston Latin School students, who founded their Youth Climate Action Network, or Youth CAN, in 2007 after watching the film "An Inconvenient Truth." Youth CAN established a network of after-school climate change clubs, launched a statewide education-for-sustainability campaign, staged annual climate change summits for teachers and students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and participated in a number of other activities.

Another 2010 winner was Delanco, N.J. student Miranda Pawline, who founded Delanco Recycles Our Plastic Bags, or DROP Bags, in 2008. She said she started the effort after seeing too many plastic bags in and alongside of the Delaware River near her home. She's since collected about 500,000 plastic bags using recycling buckets in schools, the library and municipal buildings.

A third 2010 winner was Kyle Kittelberger of Raleigh, N.C., who built an 80-foot wetland boardwalk at Falls Lake Recreation Area in 2008 to earn his Eagle Scout badge. Kittelberger continued his work by building new access points throughout the recreation center and improving the surrounding habitat. He also built an observation deck, new staircases to prevent erosion and eight recycling centers throughout the recreation center.

The youth awards don't offer any cash but they do come with special recognition and a presidential plaque. For more information, visit http://www.epa.gov/education/peya/index.html.

Photo: EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg and 2010 youth award recipient Kyle Kittelberger.