McLean County Green Awards

Anne McGowanThe Ecology Action Center presents the annual McLean County Green Awards to recognize efforts to improve our local environment.  Nominations are accepted each year in March, with recipients being named at the annual spring Zymurgy event.

The McLean County Recycling Award identifies businesses, schools or organizations with outstanding recycling programs or waste reduction efforts.  While nominations will be accepted for any recycling or waste reduction project, areas of growing interest include source reduction of hazardous wastes or zero-waste programs.

In tribute to early EAC Director Anne McGowan who passed away suddenly in March of 2015, we renamed the World of Difference Award in her honor.  The Anne McGowan Making a World of Difference Award recognizes outstanding projects, activities, or individuals in McLean County who promote environmental awareness or natural resource conservation.  Michelle Covi, former Director of the Ecology Action Center and friend to Anne McGowan, recently described Anne’s ability to inspire others.

Anne was a catalyst for action. She was energetic and never hesitated to get her hands dirty. Her natural curiosity and love of the natural world fueled her passion for wildlife exploration and preservation. She shared her love with children and adults alike when she conducted nature walks, wildflower walks, and nature programs. She inspired and nurtured life-long dedication to environmental awareness and conservation in children, college students, and adults whose lives she touched.

Anne McGowan World of Difference Award

McLean County Recycling Awards

2016 Jeff Pritts, General Manager of the Bloomington Normal Marriott is a local role model in implementing sustainability practices in a  commercial facility.  He assertively pursued greater energy efficiency in the hotel by transitioning to more energy efficient lighting and HVAC systems.  He insists on low-toxicity cleaning supplies throughout the facility.  He has built relationships for the procurement of locally grown and sustainable foods for the business.  Mr. Pritts is active with area groups to help share what he has learned through his experiences.  Overall, he has gone above and beyond the expectations of his organization to demonstrate positive corporate community involvement and social and environmental responsibility. Bloomington Normal Marriott offers single stream recycling throughout the facility, both to customers in every guest room and conference room, but also in offices and kitchens.  They are an active participant in local food composting efforts, work closely with local nonprofits to donate furniture, carpeting, and more for reuse, find new homes for other unneeded materials through active use of McLean County Freecycle, and encourage positive behaviors by the full staff by organizing annual trail clean up activities.
2015 Andrew Johnson, General Manager of Connect Transit According to the Federal Transit Administration, public transportation produces significantly less greenhouse gas emissions per passenger mile than private vehicles. The efforts to increase ridership can mean increased greenhouse gas savings, up to 83% for a typical diesel bus. Since Andrew began working for Connect Transit, the transit use in BloomingtonNormal has experienced and handled a 40% increase in ridership in the last 3 years. Andrew personally strengthened business partnerships and developed new rider agreements (universal access agreements) with local businesses. He also furthered the development by rebranding and improving technology which including a real time bus display which helped alleviate rider anxiety about missing the bus. Route changes helped make the system more efficient. Home Sweet Home Ministries expands its mission of providing hope and renewal to the community with HSHRenew, a recycling and reuse program. HSHRenew collects textiles, clothing and shoes at the donation bins located across BloomingtonNormal, in addition to electrical or electronic devices at the warehouse at Home Sweet Home Ministries. All of the funds generated by HSHRenew support the programs and services at Home Sweet Home Ministries, ultimately giving back to the community in manifold ways. Today, HSHRenew steadfastly persists in its commitment, as it has become the second largest ewaste collection site in BloomingtonNormal. In 2014, over one million pounds of textiles, clothing, and shoes were recycled, and two million pounds of materials were recycled in total. Ten HSHRenew bins were deployed around town, collecting nearly 72,000 pounds of materials. Continuing its commitment to reuse and restoration, almost 300,000 pounds of textiles, clothing, and shoes were given new life by being sold at the Mission Mart thrift stores.
2014 Carolyn and Roy Treadway have been dynamic environmental activists in Bloomington-Normal community. Together they have hosted numerous meetings and workshops in their hospitable home. They have arranged larger meetings at both the Bloomington and Normal Public Libraries. Carolyn has published two books of writings and photographs and started a local group called Vision2020 Bloomington-Normal. Vision2020 has helped members lower their carbon footprint. She has also studied with Al Gore, led workshops on climate change, assisted in greenhouse building and fought fracking both at the local and state levels. Roy, a demographer, now retired from many years of teaching at ISU, has for years contributed his expertise indefatigably on planning with the Town of Normal and Regional Planning Commission. The Westminster Village Green Team promotes within the WV community energy conservation, recycling and related efforts to deal constructively with climate change and environmental challenges. They have two major activities: collections and disposal of medications, electronics and clothing and fabrics (plus paper shredding); and orienting and encouraging residents in recycling. They have successfully developed and maintained a productive recycling program with Assisted Living. There are contributions in place for the design and development of a planned bird-and-butterfly garden as well as design of herb and flower gardens with raised beds to promote gardening activities by less agile residents.
2013 WGLT’s “Good to Go Commuter Challenge” program has encouraged sustainable transportation and healthy living in the McLean County area. In this friendly, week-long competition, participants will log how many miles they travel by bike, mass transit, carpooling, and other sustainable ways. To date, participants have curbed a combined 14.5 tons of carbon, burned 406,000 calories, and logged 34,000 miles. In 2012, Jewel-Osco implemented food scrap and recycling programs to encourage zero-waste practices. Their success can be seen by the recognition they received for a 97% diversion rate from the landfill. To achieve this, they began recycling materials such as cardboard, plastic metal, and paper to be sent to their corporate salvage center. Additionally, they implemented a food scrap program—food not sent to the food bank was used for compost at ISU’s farm.
2012 The Sugar Grove Nature Center is a leader in providing quality nature education programs to visitors from central Illinois and beyond, and hosts 20,000 annual attendees . The facility is open year-round and invites individuals of all ages to enjoy interpretive exhibits, sensory displays, live animals, and a wildlife viewing room. The ISU Student Bio-diesel project has been providing Illinois State University with bio-diesel for University vehicles by converting vegetable oil waste from ISU’s dining centers. Additionally, this year the Student Sustainability Fund has provided funding for the insulation of a bio-diesel shed that allows the project to convert 100% of campus vegetable oil waste year-round.
2011 This year for the 40th Anniversary of our origins, we recognize four individuals who were instrumental in the creation and development of the Ecology Action Center as a community organization. Thank you to these and all of the other generous individuals who have given so much over the years for the benefit of our local environment.  Derek McCracken, Myra Gordon, Anne McGowan, and Michelle Covi. The Illinois State University Farm has been composting food scrap, landscape waste and livestock waste on a routine basis since 1993. An estimated 24,000 pounds of food waste are composted annually from the 3 Campus Dining Centers. Now thanks to grants allowing expansion of the program and a partnership with Midwest Fiber, the program is accepting food waste from numerous area businesses for composting, which will result in a significant increase in the amount of food waste diverted from the landfill.
2010 Karen Lowery – Bloomington High School, Brian Fitzgerald- YouthBuild McLean County First Christian Church – Disciples of Christ, Recycling Furniture for Families
2009 Nick Jordan has done a lot for children and the environment. In 2008, Nick collected 200 pounds of unwanted Christmas cards from schools throughout our community. The cards were then sent to the St. Jude Ranch for Children in Nevada where the children enjoyed putting their own personal touches on each one. The Ranch was then able to sell the cards generating money for their savings. The program was so well received that area schools are already planning to participate again this year! Through his personal efforts Nick was able to make an important and positive difference in our community and our world. As a Master Gardener, Jerry Swartz has long been aware of the large amount of waste created by plastic garden pots which are not recyclable in residential recycling programs. Jerry led the effort to create a plastic garden pot recycling program in McLean County that launched in 2008. Along with a dedicated group of volunteers, Jerry managed to divert seven tons of plastic garden pots from the landfill last year. This year, he seeks to expand the program to neighboring counties to further increase the impact of recycling garden pots.   YouthBuild McLean County has taken many important and impressive steps to reduce waste and practice green building techniques. Employees now complete trainings focused on the best practices for green building and sustainability. They set up recycling centers on construction sites, and are building homes that are energy efficient, equipped with energy star appliances and have solar energy possibilities. The more companies that follow this example, the better our world will become.
2008 Susan Cantrell has extended an abundance of effort to keep her classroom earth friendly. For over 25 years, she has made recycling an everyday practice in her classrooms by reinforcing to her students that they are “planet protectors”. Susan’s efforts go beyond the classroom and extend into her own home. Recently she has said good-bye to plastic bags and old appliances in favor of cloth sacks and energy efficient appliances. She sums up her efforts by humbly stating that “no act is ever too small to make a difference.” Every year Hudson Ag 4-H Club picks a focus for the school year; this time around they took on the mighty task of recycling. What started as a 4-H project soon became a school-wide project. Hudson Elementary has paved the way for elementary school recycling by implementing a school wide paper recycling program as well as sponsoring workshops focused on ecology for county children.  For over 10 years, Wild Birds Unlimited has been committed to improving the environment through their recycling efforts. Not only do they carry a large line of birdfeeders which were designed from recycled milk jugs, but they practice what they preach by recycling nearly two truckloads of broken down cardboard boxes each year.
2007 Margaret Hollowell has endeavored tirelessly to promote public awareness and appreciation of Central Illinois’ native areas. Among her achievements are restoration projects at Angler’s Lake, Hedge Apple Wood Nature Preserve and Ewing Park, Prairie education projects at public schools and public education through her work with the JWP Audubon Chapter and McLean County Master Gardener Program.  Ornatrix Hair Salon owner Trisha Wulf recycles 80-90% of her waste and protects the health of her clients and our water by using ammonia-free, non-toxic hair colorants, low EMF blow dryers and photodegradable retail bags. Brigham Elementary School Living Green Team recycles paper at the school and develops student leadership skills while engendering environmental responsibility in students and teachers. The efforts of the entire school have significantly reduced what ends up in the landfill.  Bill’s Key and Lock Shop in Uptown Normal strives to reduce waste by reusing locks whenever possible and recycles all items. The staff also use energy saving devises throughout the Shop.
2006 Mike Callahan, Director of the Bloomington-Normal Water Reclamation District, has initiated initiative projects, such as constructed wetlands, sewage sludge recycling and the construction of a state of the art wastewater facility in the Kickapoo Creek Watershed. Eric and Marty Payne are models of environmental stewardship in our community. They live sustainably by recycling, conserving water, being energy efficient, supporting local organic farmers and teaching their daughter, by example, to care for our planet.Caroline Wade is an extraordinary Environmental Health student from Illinois State University. Caroline has excelled not only academically, but has personally contributed to the community through her advocacy for conservation in local developments and stormwater management.
2005 Drake Zimmerman, Friends of Kickapoo Creek Dallas Wickenhauser, R. B. White, Inc., Simon and Sui Fong, Orient Gourmet, and Tracy Cunanan