The 2016 award winners are:
Primary Energy Educator of the Year - Michelle Howe, Lodi Middle School
Secondary Energy Educator of the Year - Russell Germain, Rhinelander High School
Higher Education Energy Educator of the Year - Gregory Nemet, UW-Madison
Community Energy Educator of the Year - Jim Jenson, Madison Gas and Electric
This award recognizes individuals who are taking the extra step to improve energy literacy among students, teachers, and the community as a whole. They help learners gain the knowledge and skills needed to analyze and resolve energy issues while making wise energy decisions.
Michelle Howe, Lodi Middle School - Primary Energy Educator of the Year
For 10 years, the over 1,500 students Michelle Howe has taught have been learning about the environment and how they can be good stewards. Michelle has taught agriculture and science and includes environmental and energy concepts in all courses including “food miles,” Great Lakes Literacy (water conservation), composting and methane gas energy, wind energy, ethanol and biodiesel, and water, geothermal, and solar energy. Students walk away from her classes understanding how easy it is to still live the lives we live while being environmentally friendly. Michelle has received the 2009 Wisconsin Association of Agriculture Educators Turn the Key State Winner, the 2010 Lodi Environmental Citizen Award, and the 2011 Lodi Parent Teacher Organization Above and Beyond the Call of Duty Award.
Russell Germain, Rhinelander High School - Secondary Energy Educator of the Year
Russ Germain has been teaching Building Trades in the Technology Education Department at Rhinelander High School for over seventeen years, teaching on average 50 students annually. Since taking over as Building Trades Coordinator in 2004, he has overseen the construction of a different structure each school year, including residential structures as well as Rhinelander's School Forest Environmental Education Center. His goal for each building has been to make it as energy efficient as possible, while in the process educating students on current best practices in energy efficient material advances and construction techniques. Mr. Germain teams with local contractors, utilities, and programs such as Focus on Energy in constructing a building every year, in order to give his students real-world, applied techniques in making energy efficient structures. Mr. Germain goes above and beyond the norm in his concern for energy efficiency. The energy efficient qualities, materials, and techniques employed in each home are displayed during an annual community open house, where students lead parents, teachers, and the community on tours of the structure. Local television, radio, and print media also cover the home-building process every year, further publicizing (and thus educating) the energy efficient qualities of these student-built structures.
Gregory Nemet, UW-Madison - Higher Education Energy Educator of the Year
Prof. Greg Nemet is chair of the Energy Analysis and Policy graduate certificate program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and also teaches interdisciplinary courses in Energy Analysis and Policy and Global Environmental Governance. Prof. Nemet is a multi-talented energy educator who is willing to work across traditional disciplinary boundaries, pull knowledge from science, engineering, economics, and policy, and package it in a way that is accessible to any audience. Students in his courses come from a wide variety of disciplines, so not only is he able to structure his lectures and assignments to put everyone on an equal footing, but he also encourages discussion and utilizes the knowledge of the students, who are often subject matter experts in their own right, to answer other students’ questions.
Jim Jenson, Madison Gas & Electric - Community Energy Educator of the Year
Jim Jenson has worked with Madison Gas and Electric for over three decades coordinating educational and outreach programs as Community Education Manager. Over the course of his career, Jim has been a key player in the energy community surrounding the MGE service territory, acting as a key resource for students and teachers. Furthermore, on a statewide level, Jim has been a leader with the K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP), having served as a KEEP instructor since the program’s inception in 1995. As a representative from the electric utility sector, Jim provided an important industry perspective along with expert technical knowledge that was essential to the development of the KEEP program. Jim has been a guiding force with KEEP, helping to grow the program by developing and piloting curriculum. In his work with KEEP, Jim has taught 25 courses serving 305 K-12 teachers. These teachers collectively instruct between 1,000-2,000 students in any single year, which means that Jim has indirectly impacted tens of thousands of K-12 students over the course of his career. Jim is also currently finishing his term as Chair of the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board. Jim is an accomplished educator, who has spent his career working to help others understand the subject of energy.