LaFayette Junior/Senior High School science teacher David Amidon was recently commended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House Council on Environmental Quality for his contributions to environmental education.
During a recent ceremony held at the White House in Washington, D.C., Mr. Amidon was awarded the Presidential Innovators Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE), which recognizes K-12 educators who integrate environmental learning into their classrooms using hands-on, experiential approaches and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.
Mr. Amidon was one of 18 educators selected to receive the national award.
“These winners are exemplary leaders who are committed to strong environmental conservation and tackling problems including landfill waste and climate change head on,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.
Mr. Amidon was recognized for his efforts in providing hands-on learning opportunities to students so they better understand human impact on ecosystems and can improve the sustainability of their community.
He often uses “place based education” - which promotes learning in what is local - when creating projects and activities for his students. Each year, Mr. Amidon’s eighth-grade classes conduct a research project that analyzes the cleanup status of Onondaga County’s Onondaga Lake, and how industrialization and urbanization led to its demise.
Under his guidance, students also recently researched the feasibility and costs of renovating LaFayette Junior/Senior High School so that it’s more sustainable.
Mr. Amidon said he’s always creating new projects and seeking groups for his students to work with. He’s collaborated with the local symphony orchestra, Symphoria, to develop a concert focusing on Nature and the Environment. To teach his students about personal waste generation habits, Mr. Amidon created an activity called “My Impact,” which grew from a collaboration with the Sustainable Materials Management Stewardship Program at Syracuse University.
To support environmental advocacy, sustainability, stewardship and education on LaFayette’s campus, Mr. Amidon recently helped restore the district’s Environmentally Concerned Organization of Students (ECOS) Club. He also worked with Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency to implement this school year a district-wide food scrap composting program.
Currently, Mr. Amidon is exploring creating a campus rain garden that’s populated by plants native to central New York. He’s also working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to bring renewable energy sources to LaFayette CSD.
As a PIAEE award winner, Mr. Amidon receives an award plaque and up to $2,500 to be used to further his professional development in environmental education. LaFayette CSD will also receive an award of up to $2,500 to fund environmental educational activities and programs.
“Environmental education cultivates our next generation of leaders by teaching them how to apply skills in creativity and innovation,” Ms. McCarthy said.