Columbia, SC—Melinda Beach, Nancy Frick, and Lucia Jacobs have been named Richland County’s 2013 Conservation Teachers of the Year by the Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (District). These awards, presented annually, recognize educators who exhibit an outstanding commitment to conservation education.
Mrs. Beach, third grade teacher at St. John Neumann Catholic School in Northeast Columbia, spearheads numerous environmental initiatives for her school community. With her leadership, programs such as schoolwide recycling, vermicomposting, Trashless Tuesdays, and Eco-Friendly Fridays have become institutionalized at the school. Mrs. Beach also oversees an Heirloom Seed Library; the Eco-Friendly Eagles after school environmental club; and the school gardens. She has received training in several environmental education curricula, including Project Learning Tree and Flying WILD, and has helped earn several grants for her school’s conservation projects. “Melinda is a true crusader for environmental protection,” her principal, Barbara Cole, writes. “She is giving [our students] a life lesson about our planet.”
Mrs. Frick is a second grade teacher at A.C. Moore Elementary in Richland County School District One. Because of Mrs. Frick, A.C. Moore is a Green Steps School with strong recycling and composting programs, an active school garden, and a well-used outdoor classroom. Mrs. Frick also instituted the Breathe Better (B2) program in her school’s car circle to improve campus air quality. She is a champion of inquiry-based science education; is trained in environmental education curricula including Project WET, Project WILD, and Project Learning Tree; and has pursued numerous professional development opportunities related to conservation. Mrs. Frick “takes advantage of as many opportunities to teach the students about the environment as possible,” says Tonia Griffin, the pre-K teacher at A.C. Moore who nominated Mrs. Frick for this award.
Lucia Jacobs teaches AP Environmental Science at W.J. Keenan High School in Richland County School District One and is a Certified Green Classroom Professional. The Green Classroom Professional Certification Program is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council and provides teachers with knowledge and skills to support environmentally healthy, resource efficient and sustainable schools and classrooms. Mrs. Jacobs is an avid recycling coordinator and an innovative science teacher. She is also an advocate for outdoor, inquiry-based science education and recently spoke about Ecosystems and Biodiversity Field Studies at the National Science Teachers Association.
Additionally, Elizabeth Gregory (John P. Thomas Elementary School Media Specialist, Richland County School District One), Lisa Collins (Pontiac Elementary School kindergarten teacher, Richland County School District Two), and Lori Wenzinger (Harbison West Elementary School fifth grade teacher, District Five of Lexington and Richland Counties) have been named Above and Beyond Award recipients by the District. Above and Beyond Awards recognize individuals who have gone well beyond the call of duty to support District-sponsored conservation education initiatives. In partnership with the District, these teachers all sponsored exceptional school-wide Arbor Day events. Additionally, Mrs. Gregory served as the school coordinator for an Eagle Scout project to construct raised bed gardens at John P. Thomas Elementary. These outstanding educators will be recognized at the District’s Conservation Banquet in May.
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Conservation districts are political subdivisions of state government under the local direction of five-member Boards of Commissioners. The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District promotes the wise use and care of natural resources for the benefit of the citizens of Richland County.
Contact: Chanda L. Cooper