CT individuals, organizations get Environmental Champion Awards

BRIDGEPORT — Individuals and organizations across the state were recognized during the ninth annual Aquarion Environmental Champion Awards at a ceremony at Bridgeport’s Beardsley Zoo.

The winners were announced earlier this week, following the ceremony held on June 1.

Aquarion received nominations from across Connecticut for volunteer projects that contributed to the improvement of the environment through conservation, protection, restoration and stewardship of the state’s water, air, soils and plant and wildlife habitats.

“Aquarion is proud to recognize the many outstanding efforts to protect and enhance Connecticut’s natural resources,” said Charles V. Firlotte, President and CEO of Aquarion, in a prepared statement. “We offer a special ‘thank you’ and heartfelt congratulations to the organizations and individuals recognized this year for their work to preserve the environment.”

There were six categories for awards: large business, nonprofit organization, communications individual, communications organization, adult, and high school student (grades 9 through 12).

PSEG won the large business award for planning to bring the greater Bridgeport region 485 megawatts of clean, sustainable generating capacity through the new Bridgeport Harbor Station. When wrapped up this summer, the new natural-gas-powered station is expected to provide energy to more than 500,000 homes and businesses.

The station is meant to end the discharge of chemical pollutants and heated water into Bridgeport harbor, and is to feature an air quality control system to reduce emissions.

Trust for Public Land in New Haven won the nonprofit award for protecting 7,500 acres of open spaces, watershed lands, parks and working farms and forests in Connecticut.

Yale Environment 360 in New Haven — an online magazine — won the communications organization award for its coverage of major environmental news. The magazine, created in 2008, is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.

Dr. Mitch Wagener, a biology professor at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, was awarded the communications individual award for developing a series of presentations, workshops and briefings on climate change.

The award for an adult went to Fairfield resident Mary Hogue, who started a sustainability plan in her hometown of Fairfield, working with the Sustainable Fairfield Task Force. Her efforts led to Fairfield receiving the highest possible accreditation by the statewide Sustainability Connecticut organization.

Hogue also became the co-founder of Sustainable Fairfield County, a multitown organization that helps communities reduce their environmental impacts.

The student award went to Raina Jain, a junior at Greenwich High School, for designing a beehive entrance that inoculates bees with a calibrated dose of natural pesticide to stop mites from going into and destroying hives.

The winning student received a $1,000 prize and the other winners received a $2,500 grant to the environmental nonprofit of their choice.

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