Walnut Elementary teacher Bret Sutterly has taken the 'Go Green' message to heart in his classroom and his efforts have been recognized on a national level.
Sutterly was one of 17 teachers nationwide to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Education for his contribution to environmental protection.
"I'm thrilled that I was able to be recognized for all of the environmental education we do at Walnut," said Sutterly.
The award was given to teachers — and 60 students — who demonstrate the creativity, innovation, leadership and passion for community engagement needed to face difficult environmental challenges.
Some of the projects in Sutterly’s classroom include raising salmon to release into the nearby river, growing wheat to understand agriculture, field trips to the Pacific Ocean to study and record sand crab populations, overseeing a recycling program on campus, and creating Public Service Announcements about the importance of ‘Going Green.’
Sutterly also secured grants to bring an alternate energy center to the school, including a wind turbine and solar panels.
"We had the only energy system like that in California, at the time," said Sutterly. "We give them a lot of opportunities to learn about different energy sources here in California."
Environmental conservation is also a priority in Sutterly's classroom. He said students learn about the local environment and resources.
"We're allowing them to be prepared to make decisions when they are older," he said.
Although Sutterly missed out on the White House reception for the award winners this week, he will be receiving $2,500 to further his professional training and Walnut will receive an additional $2,500 to support environmental education programs.
“Through their enthusiasm and commitment, these students and educators are inspiring current and future environmental stewards,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “We are pleased to honor their work that helps communities and protects the environment.”