Highland Park High school science teacher Howie Hill is being recognized for his
innovative approaches to environmental education in and outside the classroom.
The White House Council on Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency selected Hill as a Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) winner for 2011-2012.
“I was very honored and humbled to win this award,” Hill said. “We have all put so much work and energy into the development of the Environmental Science and the AP Environmental Science programs and it is so rewarding that students and the community as a whole are embracing it, supporting it and really learning a lot
about the sciences of the environment and themselves.”
The program recognizes outstanding kindergarten through grade 12 teachers who
employ innovate approaches to their teaching and use the environment as a context for learning. Two teachers from each of the EPA’s 10 regional offices were
selected to receive the award.
Hill is one of the sponsors of the Green School Initiative at HPHS. The organization is a group of students and staff members who are committed to working collaboratively on projects designed to transform Highland Park High School into a more environmentally efficient and responsible institution.
“We have been working at coordinating in field learning and mentorship
programs with our AP and Environmental Science students and students from
various District 112 schools,” Hill said.
According to the EPA website, Hill was selected because he “introduces students to outside learning, investigation and research from the first day of class, inspiring them to learn and think analytically.” The website goes on to detail some of Hill’s accomplishments at HPHS. “Howard’s students have designed and built a biodiesel laboratory that converts the cafeteria’s vegetable oil into fuel to power a generator used for concession stands at athletic events.”
As a PIAEE winner, Hill will receive an award of $2,000 to be used to further his professional development in environmental education. He will also receive $2,000 to fund environmental educational activities and programs at HPHS.
“The funds associated with the award will go directly towards GSI projects that our students and the school as a whole can use as learning opportunities,” Hill said. “The LED lights being installed or solar panels linked to the wind turbine system would be great projects to expand as would our urban agriculture units of study.”