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Lewis County teacher named a West Virginia Environmental Teacher of the Year

CHARLESTON, WV – Three educators were recognized this month as West Virginia Environmental Teachers of the Year by the state Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).

Awards were handed out on the elementary, middle and high school levels to Tracy Arnold of Leading Creek Elementary in Lewis County; Cindy Booth of Kermit PK-8 in Mingo County; and Melody Hubbard of Clay County High School.

The teachers are being honored for going above and beyond in promoting environmental awareness in their classrooms, schools and communities. Each teacher will receive a $500 personal award and a $1,000 check to promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education at their schools.

“These amazing teachers are playing a pivotal role in helping our students understand the importance of environmental stewardship. Because of their efforts, our schools are producing young citizens equipped with the knowledge to make the right decisions about our environment – decisions that benefit not only their communities but all of West Virginia,” said Annette Hoskins, director of the WVDEP’s Youth Environmental Program and the coordinator for the agency’s Teacher of the Year awards.

Arnold, who teaches fifth grade, works with her students on an annual stream study of Leading Creek. Her citizen scientists analyze water quality data and report their findings to the WVDEP. Arnold also organizes litter cleanups on the creek and initiated a school-wide World Water Day celebration, annually bringing together state agencies and other volunteers for a day of environmental education at the school.

Booth teaches science to middle schoolers at Kermit PK-8 and incorporates environmental education into her science curriculum at every opportunity. Her students maintain seven raised beds on campus, where they grow vegetables and incorporate sustainable gardening practices along the way. In addition, Booth’s classes are responsible for upkeep on the school’s pollinator garden.

Hubbard, a science teacher at Clay County High, was instrumental in forming the Buffalo Creek Watershed Club at her school. She brought together students from all backgrounds to unite for a common cause – learning about past and current water quality issues in Buffalo Creek. The club works with state agencies to improve the watershed through proactive approaches, such as monitoring and stream cleanups. Buffalo Creek is a tributary of the Elk River.

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