The Blake Reeves Award, given in honor of the founder of the Niagara Group of the Sierra Club, this year went to Joanne Hameister of the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Water. Since the mid-1970s, Hameister and a group of dedicated citizens have been our regional “watchdogs” and provided public oversight on the nuclear waste facility only 30 miles from Buffalo. Hameister’s expertise in research and statistics have protected us from misguided and easily misinterpreted studies endlessly prepared by DOE and NYSERDA as the agencies continue to postpone a decision on the final clean-up of this site. This has been a labor of love and compassion, and required perseverance, knowledge and communication skills.
David Kowalski received the Bruce Kershner Award, an award designed to honor a person who has continued to fight tirelessly on behalf of an environmental issue in the way that Kershner fought for old growth forests. Kowalski has worked to protect the land, air and waters of New York State in his ongoing and evidence-based critique of the proposed deep horizontal hydrofracking. His education of the public on this matter and the creation of the informative blog, “Re-Energize Buffalo” have been very effective in the ongoing protection of our natural resources.
Sierra Club Niagara Group also presenting a certificate and monetary support for Environmental Education to two WNY teachers whose work is being recognized: Kevin Powers of Nichols School and Melisa Dettbarn of Pembroke High School. Powers helped to develop an interdisciplinary curriculum, “A Rising Tide” into the schools that will address the theme of environmental refugees, especially those displaced by climate change. Ms. Dettbarn’s Applied Science class created an on-line field guide to the trails near their school.