Press Release

Maine Environmental Education Association announces 2013 Environmental Education Awards

The Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) has announced the winners of its annual environmental education awards recognizing this year’s most outstanding environmental educator, school, business and environmental program in the state of Maine.

MEEA will also present a special Lifetime Achievement award to Jim Chandler, Director of the Auburn Land Lab. These awards will be presented at MEEA’s annual conference on March 22.

This year’s conference, “Pathways to Environmental Literacy: Sharing Stories to Inspire Our Work,” is the state’s key gathering of environmental educators and will also feature conservation organization staff, health advocates, business leaders, governmental agencies, outdoor recreation groups and the agriculture industry. MEEA’s goal for our annual conference is to help educators and Maine residents recognize that the success of our communities relies on a healthy, active, engaged and environmentally literate population.

The 2013 environmental education awards will be presented at the MEEA annual meeting portion of the conference on Friday, March 22nd at the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, Maine. Winners of the awards will be honored in a ceremony at 8:45 am. This year’s winners include:

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L.L. Bean: The Maine Environmental Education Association Business of Year

The Juniper Hill School for Place-based Education, Alna, ME: The Maine Environmental Education Association School of the Year

“Vital Signs” Gulf of Maine Research Institute: The Excellence in Environmental Education Program Award

Coleen O’Connell: Eberhard Thiele Environmental Educator of the Year

Jim Chandler: The Maine Environmental Education Association Lifetime Achievement Award

L.L. Bean, the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association Business of Year award, is being recognized for its endless work on improving its sustainability and environmental stewardship, reducing its carbon footprint, supporting sustainable forestry practices, participating in the Maine Outdoor Coalition and its generous charitable contributions to outdoor education and conservation associations in the state of Maine.

The Juniper Hill School for Place-Based Education, of Alna, Maine, the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association School of the Year, is being recognized for its unique efforts to connect their students to themselves, to each other, and to their communities through studying both natural and human environments in a hands on manner. The outdoors serves at the school’s primary classroom and as a springboard for a curriculum that synthesizes the best of 20th century progressive education with a 21st century place-based curriculum. The Juniper Hill School has made a whole-school commitment to sustainable practices and seeks to instill in each student a deep connection to the natural world with an ultimate goal of producing well-rounded, critically thinking, environmentally literate citizens.

The Vital Signs Program of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, the winner of the Maine Environmental Education Association Excellence in Environmental Education Program Award, is being recognized for so aptly upholding its mission to give Maine middle school students an opportunity to learn environmental science by doing the work of real scientists. This collaborative citizen science program connects Maine teachers and their students with scientists and citizens across the state who are collaborating to monitor and study invasive and native species in all habitats. Through the program website at, students make and share original observations with scientists and the public and create and share projects that make meaning of their data.

Coleen O’Connell, Director and Founder of the Master of Science program in Ecological Teaching and Learning, Lesley University, Cambridge Massachusetts is the winner of MEEA’s 2013 Eberhard Thiele Environmental Educator of the Year award. Coleen, a resident of Belfast, Maine, is being recognized for her incredible contributions to furthering environmental education in Maine and New England for the past 27 years. Coleen has dedicated her career to promoting the importance of environmental literacy and has served on the MEEA Board, the North American Association for Environmental Education Board, has co-founded several environmentally-related non-profit organizations, and continues to serve on a number of boards for many environmentally- focused education groups. Her contributions to the field of environmental education are numerous and will be enduring.

Jim Chandler, Director Auburn Land Lab and Consulting Science Teacher, Auburn School Department, Auburn, ME, is the winner of a Maine Environmental Education Association Lifetime Achievement award. Jim has volunteered thousands of hours with MEEA serving as an active board member for the past 22 years and a two -term president of the organization. Jim’s impact on environmental education in Maine is clearly evident. He brought the Canon Envirothon program to the state of Maine in 1989 and has served on the international committee for this high school environmental education competition. Among many previous awards, Jim has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to environmental education as a National Project Learning Tree Outstanding Educator and a Maine Science Teacher of the Year. Jim has created numerous environmental education programs that have touched the lives of countless students and educators for the past 30 years. Jim serves as an inspiration for all who work in environmental education related fields in Maine.

The conference and awards ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. at the Chewonki Foundation, located at 485 Chewonki Neck Road Wiscasset, ME 04578. In case of inclement weather, the conference will be held on Saturday, March 23, 2013, at Chewonki.

The Maine Environmental Education Association (MEEA) serves as the state association representing environmental education and both formal and non-formal educators in the state of Maine. MEEA has been in existence for over 30 years. MEEA helps connect teachers with non-formal environmental and outdoor education providers in the state, advocate for the importance of environmental education for all Maine residents, and raises funds to help support projects within the state that are working to improve the environmental literacy of Maine citizens. MEEA also represents the state’s interests at the regional level through the New England Environmental Education Alliance and at the national level through the North American Association of Environmental Education.

For more information about MEEA and environmental education in Maine, please explore MEEA’s website at and MEEA’s blog at

For any questions, please contact MEEA’s award chairperson Olivia Griset at 207-232-6964 or