The Kentucky Environmental Quality Commission recently presented its annual Earth Day awards to individuals and groups who have made significant contributions to the environment. This year’s event took place at the Berry Hill Mansion in Frankfort. Among the recipients were:

Leslie Preston Meredith, a science and social studies teacher at West Hardin Middle School (Hardin County), who runs the school’s Green Club. Her many projects include:

  • Monitoring school buses for length of idling time while waiting for students to load and unload, resulting in a policy change from the school board that reduces idling time by 34 percent.
  • A grant application to buy a watershed and soil erosion model so her students can learn about point and non-point source pollution and how it affects groundwater.
  • Secured $3,000 to start a native prairie restoration project in which students planted, mulched and watered trees for a mini-prairie on school grounds. Every three years, the parcel requires a controlled burn for maintenance. The three-acre prairie does not have to be mowed, saving $1,529 annually for the district.
  • A Model Green and Healthy School certification for West Hardin, making it the only middle school in the state to be so certified.
  • In collaboration with her superintendent and the Hardin County solid waste coordinator, Meredith secured a recycling trailer located across from the school, resulting in easy access to recycling for local residents.

The Bluegrass Youth Sustainability Council, made up of environmentally conscience high school student leaders from both private and public schools in Lexington, has organized major projects including:

  • partnering with local elementary schools to design, maintain and develop curriculum for campus rain gardens
  • conducting occupant behavior energy audits to provide feedback for Lexington- Fayette Urban County Government and Fayette County Public Schools administrative buildings
  • Installing two water bottle refilling stations in each public and private high school. A ticker counter tracks how many plastic water bottles have been diverted from landfills – the count is more than 128,000.

Karin Ceralde, a National Board Certified Teacher in biological sciences, teaches advanced placement courses to students at Shelby County High School. Her students participate every year in the citizen-science project called the Great Backyard Bird Count in collaboration with the National Audubon Society.

Its purpose is to collect data on wild birds, to create a real-time snapshot of bird populations, to learn more about how the birds are doing and how to protect them and the environment we share.

To learn more about these and other winners, go to