On August 4, 2022, Aquarion Water Company celebrated the four winners of New Hampshire's 2022 Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards during a ceremony at The Victoria Inn Bed & Breakfast and Pavilion in Hampton, NH. Annually, the Environmental Champion Awards recognize organizations and individuals in the business, non‑profit, adult, and student categories.
Established in 2005, A Place to Grow, LLC is a nature-based childcare center in Brentwood. A Place to Grow is the only school in the state with two Nature Explore-Certified outdoor classrooms. It is also a registered Monarch Waystation – a rest area for Monarch butterflies migrating between Mexico and Canada – and a certified Eco-Healthy Child Care® center.
The school has undertaken numerous sustainable practices and energy efficiency initiatives to make the facility more environmentally friendly, such as installing energy-efficient air source heat pumps and LED lighting and utilizing 44 solar panels on the property to power nearly all its annual electricity use.
Additionally, A Place to Grow is working with a licensed forest ecologist to develop walking trails across its 13 acres of land, which can be used by children attending the school. Students at A Place to Grow are surrounded by sustainable practices and learn to appreciate and care for the environment as part of their education at an early age.
Working to improve environmental quality since 2001, Blue Ocean Society strives to protect marine life in the Gulf of Maine through research, education, and inspiring action.
Blue Ocean Society researches local fin, humpback, and minke whales; educates people about marine life and human impacts through beach and marine cleanups, whale watches, and school programs. Blue Ocean Society inspires action through pollution prevention campaigns and by encouraging simple behavior changes to benefit the environment.
Blue Ocean Society’s annual whale watch trips have helped to educate thousands of individuals and document hundreds of whales. In 2021, Blue Ocean Society also led over 240 beach cleanups from southern Maine to northern Massachusetts, during which volunteers picked up more than 70,000 pieces of litter weighing over 3,000 pounds.
To date, the organization has also hosted more than 135,000 visitors at the Blue Ocean Discovery Center – the first marine education facility in Hampton Beach offering educational programs to schools throughout New England.
In addition, Blue Ocean Society has a robust internship program. It has hosted more than 150 interns, with are large percentage being female. Many have gone on to pursue careers in STEM fields.
For several years, Deborah Alberts has served as chair of the Great Bay Stewards, a Greenland non-profit whose mission is to protect and conserve the Great Bay estuarine ecosystem. In this role, she has been a tireless advocate for research, conservation, stewardship, and education around Great Bay.
Last year, Deborah helped launch and administer the organization's Tide Turner program, which encouraged residents to commit to making small changes to their homes and yards to improve the estuary's health and overall environment.
Additionally, Deborah enlisted local greenhouses to donate materials to the Great Bay Stewards' Estuary Inclusion Garden, and spent hours planting herb and flowers in a sensory portion of the garden. Along with her chairperson duties, Deborah also helped with mulching and raking during cleanup days at the Great Bay Community Wildlife Garden, selling raffle tickets at Art of Great Bay, and advocating for the Bay's protection everywhere she goes.
Wesley Stocken, a 2022 graduate of Hanover High School, uses his passion for the outdoors to benefit his local community and the environment.
Wesley took on his first improvement project at age 11 when an infestation of an invasive and poisonous plant, wild parsnip, spread across his neighborhood. Wesley coordinated with the Town of Hanover to remove the harmful plants and provide native plants with room to grow.
Over the past several years, Wesley's love of nature has provided an escape from increased screen time associated with virtual classes. To spend more time outside, Wesley devoted his efforts to maintaining local hiking trails and building mountain biking paths using reclaimed wood.In addition, Wesley enjoys educating his community about the importance of protecting the environment. He frequently works with residents to create art pieces using recycled materials and recently launched a classroom initiative to raise awareness about rhinoceros conservation efforts.
See our list of past Environmental Champion Award winners.View Winners