May 2011 - The Gulf of Mexico Foundation (GMF) is proud to announce that it is the recipient of the 2011 US EPA Environmental Quality Award for their efforts in the Caribbean. This award is the highest recognition presented to the public by The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each year, EPA searches for those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality and public health.
“The Gulf of Mexico Foundation actually grew out of an innovative EPA project, called the Gulf of Mexico Program in 1990,” said GMF President and CEO, Dr. Quenton Dokken. “To be recognized and honored by the EPA is particularly significant and humbling. We are proud to work alongside the Environmental Protection Agency.”
The Gulf of Mexico Foundation’s commitments and efforts in the Caribbean include community-based restoration programs led by Deputy Director Ryan Fikes, and education and outreach programs conducted by Science Spanish Club Network Coordinator Richard Gonzales. The Foundation worked with schools in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, helping students learn language and science skills through participating in environmentally-oriented educational projects focused on the Gulf of Mexico and its watersheds. Activities with the club include dragging seine nets through bay waters to learn first-hand what lives beneath the surface, kayaking through wetlands to monitor animal and plant life, cleaning up trash along coastal areas, and attending events such as Earth Day.
Since 2006, the Gulf of Mexico Community-based Restoration Partnership, administered by the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, has funded over $275,000 in habitat restoration projects in the Caribbean Sea in US Territorial Waters. These funds have leveraged over $425,000 in matching contributions, including over 7,800 volunteer hours. These efforts have lead to the restoration of over approximately 1,000 acres of coastal and marine habitat in the Caribbean Sea.
Recipients of the US EPA Environmental Quality Award come from all sectors of the community, including non-profit, environmental, businesses, community groups, individual citizens and environmental educators. EPA honored this year’s award recipients at a ceremony on April 29 in New York City, where Fikes attended and accepted the award for the GMF.