Teachers from Nelson and Rowan counties were honored by the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education (KAEE) as two of its six Excellence in Environmental Education Awards.

Kathy Miller, a 2nd- and 3rd-grade teacher at Cox’s Creek Elementary School (Nelson County), was named the first winner of the Mary Kathryn Dickerson Outstanding Educator of the Year award. Jennifer Pecco, a 6th-grade science teacher at Rowan County Middle School, received the Outstanding PreK-12 Educator award.

Both awards honor educators who have dedicated current and long-term service in the field of environmental education and/or exhibited outstanding contribution and leadership in supporting environmental education. The winners were recognized last week at KAEE’s annual conference in Jamestown and will be presented with their awards at the KAEE awards gala on Nov. 12 in Lexington.

Miller has taken on several initiatives to improve the grounds and environment of her school, working with the Future Farmers of America, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to clean and create gardening areas around the school’s perimeter. She also has organized students and volunteers to clear and maintain schoolyard trails, encouraged recycling and green products, and launched a partnership with Lowe’s of Bardstown that utilizes donated products and Lowe’s employee volunteers to assist with landscaping of the school grounds.

Pecco has worked with students to help Rowan County Middle receive recognition as a Kentucky Green and Healthy School, establishing recycling programs, outdoor wetlands for hands-on learning, composting projects, pollinator plantings and vegetable gardens. The edible gardens provided income for the students to purchase Thanksgiving baskets for families in need.