Delaware Association for Environmental Education

Awards for Excellence

Four Awards for Excellence are presented each year at the DAEE Annual Conference.

The Awards for Excellence in Environmental Education are presented annually to recognize and celebrate individuals or groups in Delaware who represent the very best of what environmental education can be and do, ensuring Delaware citizens develop an understanding of the natural world that inspires them to act responsibly moving us toward a more sustainable future. The Awards for Excellence were established in 2017 by the Delaware Children in Nature Coalition (DCIN – now DAEE’s Communities in Nature Initiative) in partnership with DAEE. 

Awards for Excellence categories and descriptions.


  • Exemplary Partnership Award: This award is presented to a group working in Delaware that demonstrate an outstanding partnership in the environmental field that serves as a model and inspiration to others. Delaware Children in Nature partners, DAEE members and other community groups working together to connect families with meaningful experiences outdoors and healthy lifestyles can amplify their positive effects.
  • Meaningful Impact Award: This award recognizes accomplishments toward facilitating positive community impacts on conservation, sustainability, and / or career advancement in the environmental field in Delaware.
  • Healthy Innovation Award: This award recognizes new approaches to connecting children, individuals, and/or families with the outdoors and healthy lifestyles in Delaware.
  • Outstanding Field Educator: This award is presented to an individual and/or organization working in Delaware who demonstrates outstanding environmental education efforts at the local, regional level and/or global level.

Nomination process

2021 nominations are open from November 1, 2021 to March 12, 2022.

Nominations/submissions are reviewed by a Committee comprised of members of DAEE’s Board of Directors and representatives from DCIN.

The Committee reviews applications and selects Award Winners for each of the four categories. If an individual or organization is nominated for multiple award categories they will be considered for each category but will only be eligible to receive one award.

Award Winners will be invited to attend the Award presentation at the DAEE Annual Conference in late winter 2022.

Questions or comments, please contact Ashley Melvin or

2020 Award Winners


‏Outstanding Field Educator – Nicole Sturgill, Las Americas Aspira Academy OLE

Nicole took a retention pond, that was an eyesore, and turned it into an outdoor learning environment (OLE) for the students at Las Americas Aspira Academy.

Through fundraising & partnerships with other teachers and community organizations, Nicole’s OLE successes include:

        • vegetable & herb garden (providing vegetables to the Brandywine Zoo)
        • water garden
        • composting program
        • monarch butterfly tagging and releasing
        • perennial plantings
        • bird houses
        • fairy garden
        • living willow structures
        • weigh station & balance beam
        • paver labyrinth

The OLE’s most recent addition is solar panels to help clean the pond water.

Congratulations Nicole Sturgill!

Meaningful Impact – Delaware Sea Grant / University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean and Environment

Since 1976, Delaware Coast Day has provided an opportunity for meaningful outreach to the community. With over 100 exhibitors annually, all focused on the environment, Coast Day is Delaware’s largest conservation and sustainability event.

In 2020, the Coast Day team made the decision to pivot the 8,000-10,000 participant event to a virtual experience. Harnessing internal expertise along with key partners, they delivered content focused on environmental careers, diversity, the arts, and industry—with science and the environment as the common thread.

An opportunity to share environmental work, connect with the public, and spend time with family, the success of Coast Day is demonstrated by raising awareness of the environment and generating interest in, and fostering existing commitment to environmental stewardship.

Congratulations Delaware Sea Grant!


Exemplary Partnership The Arden’s Community-Based Spotted Lanternfly Control Project – Integrated Pest Management

A multigenerational, community-based citizen science project focusing on the development of a core group of residents skilled in applying Integrated Pest Management methods to address the SLF infestation in wooded areas of the Ardens. This work included:

        • 8 workshops
        • 80 participants
        • 3 YouTube Videos
        • Many requests for information & assistance

Congratulations Arden’s Community!


Healthy Innovation – Aquatic Resource Education Center (AREC) Eco-Explorer Team

In the past 20 years, 56,000 fifth-grade students have engaged in tasks that real scientists would perform by participating in the Eco-Explorers Program at the Aquatic Resources Education Center in Smyrna. Over the years, this team has provided robust, innovative, and comprehensive outdoor and hands-on education to K-12 and college students.

This impactful program would not be possible without the dedication and expertise of the staff at the Aquatic Resources Education Center in the Eco-Explorers Program. In 2020, the staff at AREC did not let Covid-19 stop them from providing programming to local students and launched the virtual Eco-Explorers Program. Each member of this team has years of experiences and is very dedicated to improving the lives of people in the state.

Considering half of Delaware is a marsh habitat, their educational activities make a significant contribution to our goal of preparing a knowledgeable and responsive workforce and securing our future.

Congratulations Eco-Explorer Team!

Previous award winners:

2019 Awards for Excellence Winners

Outstanding Field Educator – Katie Pollock
Meaningful Impact – Caroline Fazzini
Exemplary Partnership – Delaware Futures
Healthy Innovation – The Urban Garden Initiative

2018 Awards for Excellence Winners

Outstanding Field Educator: Leona Williams, Forwood Elementary School
Impact Award: Melissa Tracy, Odyssey Charter School
Exemplary Partnership: Shue-Medill Middle School, Brian Marsh/ US Fish & Wildlife Service
Healthy Innovation: The Jefferson School (now Sussex Academy Elementary)

2017 Awards for Excellence Winners

Outstanding Field Educator: Gary Kreamer, DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife
Impact Award: Delaware State Parks Youth Conservation Corps
Exemplary Partnership: Delaware Envirothon
Healthy Innovation: City of Wilmington Green Jobs Program

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