Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) Commissioner David Salyers today announced the winners of the 2022 Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards.
The Chester County West Tennessee Recycling Hub won the 2022 Environmental Education and Outreach.
The winners were formally recognized at an awards ceremony July 25 in Franklin for their achievements and positive impact on the state’s natural resources and communities.
“We are proud to recognize those who work diligently to protect Tennessee’s unmatched beauty and natural resources,” Lee said. “They exemplify a commitment to conservation and responsible stewardship, and we commend them for their excellent work.”
“This is an impressive list of winners, and we are glad TDEC can once again present these awards,” Salyers said. “The winners go above and beyond expectations, and we congratulate them for their achievements.”
The Governor’s Environmental Stewardship Awards program recognizes exceptional voluntary actions that improve or protect the environment and natural resources with projects or initiatives not required by law or regulation.
In its 36th year, the awards program covers the following categories: agriculture and forestry; building green; clean air; energy and renewable resources; environmental education and outreach; materials management; natural resources; sustainable performance; and water quality.
A panel of nine professionals representing agriculture, conservation, forestry, environment, and academic professions judged more than 60 nominations and selected this year’s award recipients based on criteria including on-the-ground environmental achievement, innovation, transferability, partnerships, and public education.
The following article was also released regarding the recycling hub’s award.
In 2011, the West Tennessee Regional Recycling Hub (WTRRH) in Henderson, became the first government agency in Tennessee to adopt a hub and spoke model for recycling. This model has proved to be a successful strategy in overcoming barriers for rural recycling programs and involves one county or city acting as a central processing center, or “hub,” that receives materials from surrounding municipalities that act as the “spokes.” The hub began in 2011 with only three spokes and has now grown to 13 spokes throughout West Tennessee and serves over 250,000 residents. The Hub’s Education and Outreach Program was created to educate and increase public awareness about environmental sustainability; pollution prevention; solid waste and recycling; and energy and water conservation while also introducing skills to identify and help resolve environmental challenges in residents’ daily lives. The Hub’s outstanding Education and Outreach Program is credited for a 58 percent increase in recycling and a 52 percent decrease in litter in Chester County over the last four years, as well as a 14 percent decrease in single-stream contamination at the Hub in 2021. As the number of spokes, recycling tonnage, and facility continue to increase, the Education and Outreach Program continues to grow and develop throughout the region.
The framework for the Hub’s Education and Outreach Program consists of restoration and protection, everyday choices, and community awareness. This is achieved by utilizing presentations, social media campaigns, and unique environmental events, projects, and programs within the local governments, businesses, communities, K-12 school systems, and higher education. To create continuity throughout the region, WTRRH created an ongoing enforcement program within the hub and spokes in January 2018. The Volunteer to Recycle program serves as the Hub’s guiding basis for the participating spokes’ Education and Outreach Programs by providing a unified logo, consistent messaging, and Educational Toolbox to assist and guide coordinators. The Educational Toolbox includes personal guidance to coordinators, social media content, advertisements, presentation, and lesson plan templates, and educational tools such as the Hub’s Education and Observation Classroom, Mobile Classroom, and Binny the Recycling Bin mascot.
To supplement the Hub’s Education and Outreach Program, the Hub utilizes Keep Chester County Beautiful and the TDOT Litter Grant to promote litter prevention, recycling, and environmental awareness in Chester County. Creating these meaningful partnerships within the community, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Keep America Beautiful, and Keep Tennessee Beautiful and other environmental agencies such as Tennessee Department of Transportation’s (TDOT) Beautification Office, help guide the program to be one of the most extensive in the state. With funding from TDOT’s Special Litter Grant, an Education and Observation Classroom was constructed and is used by surrounding counties, local schools, and other government organizations for meetings, school field trips, litter prevention events, and tours of the recycling hub. The classroom is equipped with a 20-foot observation window overlooking the recycling building where visitors can safely observe the operations of the recycling facility and 11 interactive environmental education stations. Environmental lessons taught in the classroom include landfills, the Three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle,) litter prevention, composting with worms, conservation, and pollution.