HeartLands Conservancy announces Green Leaf Awards

Chronicle Media

At its annual dinner April 19, the Heartlands Conservancy raffled off a Tesla car. The other top prize was a weekend Cardinals baseball package. (Photo courtesy of Heartlands Conservancy)

The Mascoutah-based Heartlands Conservancy, at its annual dinner April 19, honored four Metro East organizations with Green Leaf Achievement Awards – or “Leafies” – for work benefitting Southwestern Illinois’ diverse environmental resources.

Conserving Land & Protecting Natural Resources — The St. Clair County Greenspace Foundation protects 70 acres of Belleville bluff area in the Mississippi Flyway.  Volunteers spend 400 hours each year to remove invasive species and trash.  The foundation also maintains walking trails that are open daily for hiking, offers an outdoor classroom, and holds organized nature walks in the spring and fall.  Barbara Taylor accepted the award.

Building Greener Communities — Through its “Visual Approach to Educating a Community on Air Quality,” the United Congregations of Metro-East and partners strive to increase understanding of environmental issues in Granite City, with projects like an Ozone Garden, an EPA flag program to educate the community of the daily Air Quality Index, educational displays for schools, and presentations to local businesses, institutions, and organizations. Linda Aud accepted the award.

Engaging People with Nature — Metro East Montessori School teacher Carrie Wilson Herndon regularly leads her students, grades 1-8, in understanding and bonding with nature.  Her students care for two bee hives, checking bees and collecting data on them weekly. After incubating and hatching chickens, Herndon’s students utilized grant money and a FarMaker Lab to successfully develop robots for tasks ranging from collecting data (on turbidity, UV, etc.) to chicken feeding.

Her classes collect water samples from Judy’s Branch in Glen Carbon and conduct monthly stream clean-up along Silver Creek.  On a St. Croix beach clean-up last year, students analyzed and noted the types of trash they collect.

Volunteers of the Year — In line with a USDA goal to reduce food waste 50 percent by 2030, Edwardsville School District 7’s Project 612 volunteer recover unopened, uneaten, prepackaged food items from school cafeterias and donate them to the Glen-Ed Food Pantry and other food distribution charities on “Sack Attack” days. To date, they have prevented over 25,000 pounds of food from reaching the landfill.

The EPA estimates approximately 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. is wasted, including one billion food items from schools thrown away annually. Renee Guttmann and Gwyn Marini, project co-directors, accepted the award.



—  HeartLands Conservancy announces Green Leaf Awards ==