For 2021, the Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards are being celebrated virtually throughout the month of October. Presenting this year's awards are U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Vice Chairman John Betkoski III, Aquarion President Don Morrissey, Aquarion Director of Sustainability & Environmental Management Carolyn Giampe, and Aquarion Director of Community Relations George Logan.
Congratulations to our 2021 winners!
Brianna Jackson is a student at Trumbull High School. A few years ago, she thought there was too much trash in her neighborhood and decided to clean it up. The simple act of filling up several large bags with garbage not only made her neighborhood cleaner, it set her on the path of environmental activism.
Brianna attended the International Coastal Cleanup with Save the Sound in Fall of 2020 and helped to coordinate one of the Town of Trumbull’s first town-wide cleanups in November of 2020. In the wake of these efforts, Brianna became one of the founding members of the Trumbull Sustainable Youth Team under the Town of Trumbull’s Sustainable Team. In addition to cleanups, Brianna has worked to improve the Sustainable Team’s monthly recycling drive where she has helped by creating promotional materials and by sorting recycling items.
Brianna broadened her efforts to incorporate the Girl Scouts where she and other team members discussed the importance of reducing, later leading a cleanup activity and sorting of trash and recycling.
Brianna attends Bridgeport Regional Aquaculture School in conjunction with Trumbull High School, which has helped strengthen her understanding of the environment, especially aquatic wildlife and local waterways. She also attended the CT DEEP’s Climate Change Youth Summit where she learned about the science of climate change, as well as ways to help youth get engaged on climate change action.
The American kestrel is a small, but mighty falcon about the size of a mourning dove or robin. In Connecticut, the kestrel has been adversely impacted by the reduction of agriculture, regrowth of forests, and overall development that have diminished habitat and suitable nesting areas. This is where Art Gingert of West Cornwall, CT comes in. Since 1977, Art has worked tirelessly on the kestrels’ behalf by building bird boxes, identifying suitable habitats, and mounting nest boxes for the kestrels to breed. Through the American Kestrel Nest Box program and Art’s efforts, there are now nearly 90 nest boxes in more than two dozen towns across Connecticut. Following lengthy research, Art designed a nest box that that has become the gold standard for helping kestrels to nest and raise their young.
While Art currently works as an arborist, every job he has had, whether landscape photographer or leader of expeditions in Canada and Alaska, has kept him close to the natural world. He freely shares the knowledge he has with those that he meets, including recently helping the Simsbury Land Trust enhance the wildlife habitat on some of its property by installing a kestrel nest box. Art’s lifetime dedication to the beautiful kestrel, a small but important bird, truly shows him to truly be an Environmental Champion.
Steep Rock Association (SRA) is a nationally-accredited land trust whose mission is to conserve ecologically and historically significant land in and around Washington CT. Founded nearly a century ago, SRA has preserved 5,300 acres, helping to protect habitats for fish, plants, and wildlife, wetlands, and forests. SRA also undertakes extensive scientific studies to improve their understanding of the protected lands’ ecology and inform their management decisions. In Steep Rock Preserve alone, the organization’s largest holding, SRA has completed six investigations specific to habitat types and 18 different studies of flora and fauna. SRA then applies its findings to prioritize stewardship projects that will conserve natural resources, enhance habitat, protect wildlife, and promote biodiversity.
The Connecticut Land Conservation Council (CLCC) advocates for land conservation, stewardship and funding, and works to ensure the long-term viability of Connecticut’s land conservation community. As the only statewide land trust service organization, CLCC works to ensure Connecticut's land conservation community has the support they need to protect special places throughout the state. Through consistent outreach and digital communications, CLCC promotes land trusts and celebrates the critical role that these nonprofits play. Since September 2017, CLCC has developed and distributed the monthly #LoveYourCTLandTrust eNewsletter featuring inspiring stories from land trusts across the state and the myriad ways they build enduring healthy and sustainable communities. The monthly eNewsletter features stories highlighting land conservation news and the inspiring efforts of staff and volunteers who have worked harder than ever to keep their lands safe and accessible for all to enjoy. With #LoveYourCTLandTrust eNews as a foundation, CLCC has expanded their communications programs – including the development of a new website and printed outreach materials – to highlight the importance of connecting people to nature across the state.
Sustainability is the cornerstone of New Morning Market’s mission and is evident in all they do, from community initiatives to product offerings. Now celebrating its 50th anniversary, New Morning Market’s mission begins with consciously selecting the highest quality products and services which are healthy for people and the environment, are humanely produced, and support a sustainable lifestyle. As a small business, New Morning Market has a unique and impressive legacy of environmental activism, including founding Woodbury's annual Earth Day celebration. Through their Earth Day celebrations, the New Morning Market team has promoted sustainable living and environmental conservation and supported local farmers, growers, and artisans. Since its founding more than 25 years ago, this environmental celebration has grown to become the largest Earth Day celebration in Connecticut.
Drew Marine is a leading technical maritime service provider that helps to optimize the world’s merchant ships. As Drew Marine works to support their customers’ vessels that call in over 1300 ports around the world, they make sustainability a core goal. One the of the company’s most recent sustainability initiatives is an innovative shipboard drinking water system. The system, HDrewO, not only makes potable water more drinkable, but it also reduces the reliance on plastic water bottles, which are typically loaded in cases by the pallet while ships are in port. This groundbreaking innovation comes at just the right time as the maritime industry, along with an increasing number of countries and international regulatory agencies, are working to ban plastics from sea, especially plastic bottles used for drinking water. Drew Marine innovations like HDrewO help to maintain a healthier crew on board while reducing costs and protecting the environment.
See our list of past Environmental Champion Award winners.View Winners