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Lexington County recognizes students and educators for their dedication to environmental education

Lexington, SC 09/06/2023 - Lexington County is hosting an awards and recognition ceremony celebrating staff, teachers and students that have encouraged and furthered environmental education and stewardship in Lexington County schools. The County and their community mentor partners look forward to recognizing these schools and individuals at the 4:30 p.m. County Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 12.

County staff as well as mentors from several outside agencies work with students and educators to help students understand the complexity of issues like waste and stormwater management. As part of this journey, several Lexington County schools have joined the S.C. Green Step Schools Program (GSS), designed to help South Carolina schools earn awards for establishing sustainability projects where students learn, do and teach others. The program connects community mentors and professionals with schools to guide and evaluate these projects.

County mentors from several sectors worked with more than a dozen schools during the 2022-2023 school year in the GSS and other environmental programs. Lexington County is excited to recognize the schools, staff, students and mentors that received awards.

Lexington County is proud to recognize the four schools who earned recertification in 2023 for multiple sustaining projects in each category: Conserve, Protect, and Restore. These schools include:

  • East Point Academy Elementary

  • Irmo Middle School

  • Leaphart Elementary School

  • Pleasant Hill Elementary

Schools working toward certification include:

  • Beechwood Middle School for sustaining projects that Conserve and Restore

  • Glenforest School for sustaining projects that Protect

  • HERO Homeschool for sustaining projects that Conserve, Protect and Restore

  • Saxe Gotha Elementary School for sustaining projects that Restore

The County also wishes to recognize schools starting out in their environmental education efforts and is happy to recognize the following schools for their projects and efforts:

  • Batesburg-Leesville High School

  • Lakeside Middle School

  • River Bluff High School

  • White Knoll Elementary School

The County is excited to recognize Emma McCaffrey, a Batesburg-Leesville Future Farmers of America (FFA) student who is receiving the Environmental Education Association of South Carolina (EEASC) 2023 Outstanding Youth Award. Last school year, Emma formed a Green Team with her agriculture teacher and fellow students. They are continuing their projects this year.

Gilbert High School had an exciting year with five FFA members competing in April at the SC State Envirothon and won third place in the FFA section. In addition, three FFA members competed in May at the state FFA Horse Evaluation competition in Camden, SC and won first place. A member of the Horse Evaluation team, Kaitlyn DeCarlis was also awarded high individual for the state. The team will move on to compete at the National competition in November of this year.

The County is also fortunate enough to have a mentor on the team from the South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF). Jay is the Industry Habitat Manager for SCWF and has obtained several certifications in birding, animal habitat and outdoor education and also leads classes in Pro Birding and becoming a Master Naturalist. His extensive knowledge and passion for the outdoors has made him an incredible mentor for students and teachers in the Green Steps program and he has proven to be a great asset for those seeking to learn more about the outdoors. Because of Jay Keck’s dedication and passion for wildlife education, he has been awarded the 2023 Green Steps Mentor of the year.

A spokesperson for the County of Lexington said recently that the County wishes to congratulates all in their work and efforts and appreciates all those who are going above and beyond to ensure our students have access to environmental education.


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Call Paul Kirby

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