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V.I. RC&D International Year of the Reef Committee Selected for 2009 Environment

V.I. RC&D "St. Croix International Year of the Reef" Project Committee Selected for 2009 U.S. EPA Environmental Quality Award!

Congratulations St. Croix IYOR Committee Members!

The Virgin Islands Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc. (V.I. RC&D) is pleased to congratulate the St. Croix International Year of the Reef Committee for their recent selection to receive a 2009 U.S. EPA Environmental Quality Award! This annual award is the highest recognition presented to the public by the U.S. EPA Region 2 office, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The honor recognizes individuals and organizations in the region who have contributed significantly to improving the environment during the prior year. The St. Croix International Year of the Reef (IYOR) Committee formed under the umbrella of V.I. RC&D as a small, grass-roots group of environmental and marine professionals dedicated to bringing IYOR to the community at large. IYOR Committee members consisted of Karlyn Langjahr (Committee Coordinator; DPNR-CZM-St. Croix East End Marine Park), Emily Tyner (UVI-Marine Advisory Service), Melanie Feltmate, and Kim Ishida (see photo above).

The goal of the St. Croix IYOR Committee was to raise community awareness about the various benefits of coral reefs to US Virgin Islanders and to expose underserved youth and adults to the marine environment. The St. Croix IYOR Committee provided community members with hands-on experiences in the marine environment to celebrate coral reefs for their human-associated values to the island community, in order to foster stewardship to generate public action and advocacy for these fragile resources.

Mobilizing with no start-up funding, the St. Croix IYOR Committee relied completely upon volunteer time and local donations and sponsorships to hold over 17 events during the year, including free snorkel clinics, educational movie nights, beach and underwater cleanups, and SCUBA certification for high school students, along with a St. Croix Reef Jam fundraiser and media outreach campaigns through radio public service announcements. They partnered with DPNR’s Division of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and St. Croix East End Marine Park (STXEEMP), The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), the St. Croix Environmental Association (SEA), The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Virgin Islands Network of Environmental Educators (VINE) and other community groups. 

St. Croix IYOR Committee members are still active in promoting coral reef education and conservation campaigns on St. Croix. 2009 activities include hosting of the 2nd annual St. Croix Reef Jam, a music festival and educational activities to be held on Sunday, May 24th at Rhythm’s at Rainbow Beach from 1:00-10:00 pm. Committee members have joined Reef Jam founders, Kurt & Janelle Schindler, to pursue the establishment of a 501(c)3 nonprofit to raise funds annually to support local coral reef education and conservation projects on St. Croix.

The Environmental Quality Award is the highest recognition presented to the public by the U.S. EPA Region 2 office. This award recognizes individuals & organizations that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to protecting and enhancing environmental quality in Region 2. To be selected, nominees must have:

  • Significantly contributed to improving environmental quality in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands during the prior year.
  • Demonstrated a high achievement level in the award category.
  • Created unique or location-specific benefits, produced results that are sustainable or reproducible, or increased public involvement in environmental action.

The EQA awards ceremony will be held in the US-EPA New York City, Manhattan office on April 24th. A follow up ceremony will be held in the USVI sometime in the summer. For more information about the St. Croix IYOR Committee and its activities or about V.I. RC&D and its projects, please contact V.I. RC&D at vircd@usvircd.org or visit www.usvircd.org.