Today, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded Gulf Breeze teacher Charlene Mauro with the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educator. The ceremony at the White house included 17 teachers and 60 students from across the nation for their contributions to environmental education and stewardship. The awardees demonstrated the creativity, innovation, leadership and passion for community engagement needed to face difficult environmental challenges. Teachers and students attending the ceremony participated in a workshop led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss climate and best practices in the field of climate education.
Mauro has been an environmental educator in Santa Rosa County for 15 years and instrumental in the development of a nationally recognized marine science program. As the founder of the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, her enthusiasm for science and learning has inspired many of her students to pursue college degrees in science, technology, environment and education. Approximately 85 percent of her students have received Bright Futures scholarships upon graduation from the program.
After thousands of community services hours and hard-won grant funding were expended, in 2009, Mauro and her students opened the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station in a formerly unoccupied ranger station. Since opening, the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station has hosted more than 5,000 students and members of the community with programs and curricula designed for 3 year olds to adults. The station offers field activities, overnight programs, public open houses, summer camps, festivals and programs for special needs children, all of which focus on conservation and respecting the marine ecosystem. Curricula at the station incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Students learn how to keep laboratory journals, collect data and specimens, and collaborate with professionals on their research. Mauro’s efforts challenge her students to be critical thinkers by exposing them to real-world experiences and environmental research careers.