Celebration of Excellence in Environmental Education

Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education (WAEE) is the statewide non-profit professional organization of environmental educators which supports environmental education through advocacy, networking, and recognition. WAEE’s awards program strives to acknowledge and encourage excellence in the field of environmental education. Help us to recognize environmental education in Wisconsin at its best – nominate an EE leader.

2021 Award Nomination 

All of us know exceptional environmental educators and environmental education supporters who deserve recognition! Nominate those who are making environmental education happen in your nature center, zoo, school, or community. Review the nomination categories to find the right fit for the amazing educators and supporters of education you know.

Awards Ceremony will be held during the WAEE Annual Fall Conference in November.

Nomination forms will be available in July, 2020. 

Complete the online form 

Download the fillable PDF

WAEE Award Categories:

Aldo Leopold Award
For WAEE members. Presented for long-term, exemplary service to WAEE and the field of environmental education in Wisconsin. This is the WAEE’s most prestigious honor.

David Engleson WAEE Award
Renamed in 2007 to recognize David Engleson
For individuals, agencies, and organizations making significant contributions to the field of environmental education as exemplified by David Engleson, founding member of WAEE, author, advocate, teacher, and environmental education leader across the state and nation.

Eco-Justice Award
For individuals, agencies, and organizations taking steps to work towards equity and environmental justice in Wisconsin.  Presented in recognition of leadership in developing and implementing programs that are inclusive, culturally relevant, working towards equitable internal practices, and representing the diverse communities in our state.

Earthguard Award
For schools, youth groups, and college or university organizations. Presented in recognition of student leadership in developing and conducting outstanding environmental action projects. Schools, classes, and youth groups are eligible for nomination. All groups are encouraged to apply.

Educator of the Year Awards
Eligibility: PreK-12 and Higher Education teachers, professionals, and volunteer educators who teach in non-formal settings, and administrators from any education-related facility.

  • Formal Educator
    Presented for outstanding, ongoing effort in infusing environmental education into teaching.
  • Non-Formal Educator
    Presented for exhibiting innovative and exemplary effort in providing environmental education opportunities for general audiences.
  • Administrator
    Presented for providing ongoing support and active involvement in EE in their facility. Administrators of any education-related facility are eligible. 

Student of the Year Award
For 6-12-grade and post-secondary students. Presented for outstanding student involvement in the field of environmental education and academic excellence.

Recognition For All Categories:

Paid registration to the Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Banquet, acknowledgement in the WAEE newsletter and on the WAEE website, engraved plaque, and formal recognition at the WAEE Awards banquet.


The Annual Celebration of Excellence also recognizes award recipients from:

Bronze Level

Copper Level

Community Level

Past Award Winners

Aldo Leopold Award2019 Award Recipients

2019 – Susan Schuller
2018 – Jesse Haney
2017 – Emily Brown
2014 – Susan Cantrell Gilchrist (posthumous)
2013 – Jodi Hermsen
2012 – Betsy Parker
2006 – Jennie Lane – KEEP Program
2004 – Clayton Russell – Northland College
2002 – Pat Marinac – Appleton Area School District
1999 – DuWayne Hearning
1998 – Al Stenstrup
1997 – Meta Reigel
1996 – Dan Sivek
1995 – Joe Passineau
1994 – Ruth Bauer
1993 – Dolly Ledin & Carrie Morgan
1992 – Judy Klippel & David Stokes
1991 – Randy Champeau & Erica and Mark Peterson
1990 – Martha Kronholm
1989 – Suzanne Wade & Hugh Curtis
1988 – Dean Sauers
1987 – Mike Gross
1986 – John Pager & Bob Warpinski
1985 – Dennis Yockers
1981 – Ann (Mielke) Wheeler-Bartol & Rick Wilke
1979 – Dave Engelson & Richard Presnell

David Engleson WAEE Award

2020 – Master Naturalists
2019 – Nature Resources Foundation of Wisconsin
2018 – Barbara Harvey (posthumous)
2017 – Becca Franzen – Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
2016 – Urban Ecology Center – Ken Leinbach
2015 – WEEB Past and Present
2014 – Randy Champeau – Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
2013 – Victoria Rydberg – Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
2012 – Tia Nelson – Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands
2011 – Janet Brandt – Wisconsin Environmental Education Foundation
2010 – Nick Hylla – Midwest Renewable Energy Association
2009 – Genevieve Fannucchi – Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
2008 – Plum Creek Timber Company
2007 – Phyllis Peri – Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
2006 – John Heusinkveld – Treehaven Education and Conference Center
2005 – Krista James – UW Stout, Biology Department
2004 – Sterling Strathe – LEAF Program
2002 – Jack Finger
2000 – Dave Engleson
1999 – WCEE
1998 – Andy Larsen
1997 – Lorrie Otto & Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute
1996 – Greater Milwaukee Boys & Girls Clubs & Wausau School Forest
1995 – Central Wisconsin Environmental Station
1994 – Trees for Tomorrow Natural Resource Education Center
1993 – Topf Wells and the Wisconsin Conservation Corps
1992 – Jack Abramson of Outdoor Wisconsin (Public TV)
1991 – Earthwatch Radio
1990 – State Representative Stan Gruszynski
1988 – Billy B. Brennen, musician
1987 – Bud Busadney, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Project Wild
1986 – CEI
1985 – Duane Toomsen & Senator David Helbach
1983 – Bert Grover, United States Forest Service
1982 – American Forest Institute
1977 – Robert Ellarson

Eco-Justice Award

2020 – Mazina’igan Staff
2019 – Urban Ecology Center, Miguel Santos & Kirsten Maier
2018 – August Ball – Cream City Conservation
2018 – Huda Alkaff – Wisconsin Green Muslims

Earthguard Award

2019 – Teens Grow Greens
2018 – Highland Community School District
2017 – High Marq Environmental Charter School
2016 – Mellen School District c/o Laure McCloskey
2015 – Lake Mills School District
2014 – Students of Escuela Verde
2013 – Fox River Academy
2012 – Conserve School
2011 – HOPE Science Club, Ben Franklin Jr. High
2009 – Justin Bloesch, Monona Grove School District
2006 – Environmental Projects of Sauk County (YEPS)
2004 – Tri-County Environmental Counselors, Plainfield
2003 – River Crossing Environmental School, Portage
2001 – Ceresco Prairie Conservancy, Ripon College
2000 – Marquette High School Science Club
1999 – Gaylord Nelson Educational Center & Prairie Project Group
1997-98 – Fox Prairie Earth Partnership Grp. & Bangor HS Nat. Honor Soc. & UWSP Env. Council
1995-96 – J.C. McKenna Middle School, Evansville & Rosholt School District
1994-95 – Hawley Environmental Sch. & Ashland Middle Sch. & Green Bay Area Public Sch. District
1993-94 – Meadowbrook, Waukesha & New Hope Children’s Theatre, St. Point & Merrill SH Env. Club
1992-93 – Trempealeau Elementary School & Ready Milwaukee Club & Lombardi School, Green Bay
1990-91 – Hawley EE Sch., Milw. & Gibraltar Area School, Fish Creek & Lucky Hills 4-H Club, Medford
1989-90 Nelson Dewey Elementary, Superior & Mercer School Environmental Club and 4-H
1988-89 – Robbins & Longfellow Elementary, Eau Claire & Roosevelt H.S. of the Arts, Milwaukee
1986-87 – Waterford Union High School
1984-85 – Little Red School, Eau Claire & Belleville Junior High School
1978-79 – New Lisbon Elem. Sch. & Langlade Sch., Green Bay & Green Bay Avenue Sch., Mlwke.
1977-78 – 81st Street School Ecology Club & Galesville Elem. School & Saukville Elem. School

Educator of the Year Awards

Formal Educator (started in 2007)

2020 – Peter Dargatz
2019 – Sandy Benton – Wisconsin Green Schools Network
2018 – Courtney Vaughan – McDill Elementary, Stevens Point
2017 – Rachel Sauvola
2016 – Paul DeLain – West Bend High School
2015 – Marta Sells – Thoreau Elementary School
2014 – Robert Welch – Waupaca School Distrist
2013 – Chris McNeill – Ouisconsing School of Collaboration
2012 – Gary Bergstrom – Bloomer School District
2010 – Gary Running – UW-Eau Claire
2009 – Steve Ewers & Phil Johnson – Tomah Middle School
2008 – Pat Arndt – Berlin Area School District
2007 – Heidi Andre – Beloit School District

K-8 Educator (given through 2006)
2006 – Lisa Randerson – Neighborhood House of Milwaukee
2004 – Brian Latus – Wauwautosa School District
2002 – Kay Jones
2001 – Kathleen Adee & Vicky Pelletter
1999 – Jane Wernecke
1998 – Deb Klaeser
1997 – Carol Reithel
1996 – Delores Larson
1995 – Marv Nevala
1994 – Jean Blum
1992 – Rhonda Narus
1990 – Scott Lee

6-12 Educator (given through 2006)
2006 – Wisconsin River Academy Faculty – Stevens Point
2005 – Victoria Rydberg – River Crossing Charter School
2004 – Thomas L. Eddy – Green Lake School District
2003 – Ryan Christianson
2002 – Phil Knier
2001 – Jeanine Staab
2000 – Larry Mancl
1999 – Gerald Friday
1998 – Edward Grunden
1997 – Sandra Roggow
1996 – Jim Stephenson
1995 – Margie Winter
1994 – Verdun Cecil
1993 – Vern Laufenberg
1992 – Lisa Albrecht
1990 – Pat Marinac, Sanders

Non-Formal Educator
2020 Mary Gaub
2019 – Matt Flower – Urban Ecology Center
2018 – Licia Johnson – North Lakeland Discovery Center
2017 – Tracy Arnold
2016 – Julie Butler – Madison Children’s Museum
2015 – Ken Keffer – Wehr Nature Center
2014 – Victoria Bahe
2013 – Jeff Nania
2012 – Cindy Damrow – DC Everest School Forest
2011 – Eli Gottfried
2010 – Mary Pardee – UW-Extension Barron County
2009 – Beverly Bryant – Wehr Nature Center
2008 – Sunshine Buchholz – Wisconsin Center for Environmental Education
2006 – Karen Kerans – Wehr Nature Center
2005 – Susan Winans – Urban Ecology Center, Milwaukee
2004 – Barb Thompson – West Salem School District
2003 – Kathe Crowley-Conn – Aldo Leopold Nature Center
2002 – Geoffrey Bishop – Nature’s Classroom
2000 – Rodney Rohde
1999 – David Schiotz
1998 – David Stokes
1997 – Mary Holleback
1996 – Beth Mittermeier
1995 – Al Stenstrup
1994 – Sue Benson
1993 – Brock Woods & Bette Salamun

Administrator
2020 – Meaghan Gustafson
2019 – Brittany Hager, Northern Waters Environmental School
2018 – Beth Heidorn – Racine Zoo
2017 – Jessica Jens – Riveredge Nature Center
2016 – Virginia Wiggen – Aldo Leopold Nature Center
2015 – Charles Eaton – Rocky Branch Elementary School, River Falls
2014 – Scott Ashmann – WEEB
2013 – Dean Sanders – Lake Mills School District
2012 – Dirk Hunter – Summit Environmental Elementary School
2011 – Paul Nistler
2008 – Jerry Runice – Berlin Area School District
2006 – Bradley Blaeser – Neighborhood House of Milwaukee
2004 – Jim McGrath – Oshkosh
2003 – Dyann Miller – Portage
2002 – Sally Ellingboe – Stevens Point
2001 – Glen Jenkins – La Crosse
1998 – Clyde Sukanen
1996 – Dr. Gerald Mullins
1995 – Merle Frommelt – Prairie du Chien
1994 – David Hash – Appleton
1993 – Gary Loertscher – Belleville & Jack Finger – Waukesha
1992 – Dr. George Longo – Sheboygan
1991 – Dr. Claude Deck – Onalaska

Student of the Year Award

2020 – Isabelle Herde
2019 – Rachel Loomis, UWSP
2018 – Yamile Salgado – Escuela Verde
2017 – Ben Vogel
2016 –  Kelly Rundell, UWSP
2015 – Amanda Kyle – UWSP
2014 – Joy Kacoroski – UWSP
2013 – Shaina Stewart – UWSP
2012 – Emily Weaver – Fox River Academy
2011 – Tara Von Dollen
2009 – Molly McKay – UWSP
2008 – Emily Hill – UWSP
2004 – Kate Hofmann – UWSP
2003 – Lara Carlson
2002 – Kenneth Skrepenski & Anthony James Morro
2000 – John Haley & Jennifer Cain
1998 – Matt Toaves
1997 – Kary Schumpert & Cathy Walters
1995 – Jeanine Staab & Brian Perry