HARRINGTON — At the Delaware State Fair, Gov. John Carney and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin honored three Delaware students as DNREC’s Young Environmentalists of the Year for their work to protect, restore or enhance our state’s natural resources.
DNREC's Volunteer of the Year and this year’s winner of the annual Youth Fishing Tournament were also congratulated.
“Every Delawarean, no matter their age, can have an impact in protecting and conserving our natural resources, while also raising awareness for environmental stewardship. At ages 9, 11 and 18, these three young people have taken a stand as environmental advocates who are already making a difference today for a better tomorrow,” Mr. Garvin said of the 2021 class of Young Environmentalists. “Today, we also recognize a volunteer who has had a long-term impact on DNREC’s emergency response mission and a young angler who caught the biggest fish in this year’s Youth Fishing Tournament, a conservation-minded event to introduce children to the joy of catching and releasing a fish.”
Young Environmentalist of the Year awardees were:
Rowan Smith, age 9, of Dover, independently formed a plant club in her third grade class at Benjamin Banneker Elementary School, Milford, and uses her recess time to lead nature walks and plant investigations, sharing facts she has learned from avidly reading and researching Delaware plants.
Maggie Wieber, age 11, is very active as a third-year member in Kent County’s Peach Blossom 4-H Club, taking on projects involving wildlife, woodworking and community service.
Upon learning of a need for bat boxes at Killens Pond and Trap Pond state parks, Maggie researched plans, solicited funds from the Delaware 4-H Foundation to buy materials, developed kits with precut parts and enlisted eight fellow 4-H members to construct 10 boxes, which were donated to the two parks to provide nesting areas for these important insect-eaters.
Julia Rial, age 18, of Lewes, has planned beach cleanups in Sussex County, organized tree-plantings and made videos at James Farm Ecological Preserve, Ocean View, and founded the Delaware Youth chapter of Extinction Rebellion with her friend, Jade Carter, to work in her community on environmental issues and sustainability.
In February, for The Shepherd’s Office, Georgetown, an organization that helps the homeless and needy, the two girls gathered a dozen volunteers and organized a “sustainable free market” that collected five truckloads of usable goods, keeping the items out of landfills. The event also included hot lunches for 100 needy people donated by local businesses.
Now in its 28th year, DNREC’s Young Environmentalist of the Year program recognizes Delaware students whose actions have helped protect, restore or enhance our natural resources by initiating an innovative project, practicing environmental stewardship, increasing public awareness or demonstrating environmental ethics. For more information, go online.