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Energy Educator of the Year Award

KEEP is proud to highlight the outstanding network of educators across the state of Wisconsin empowering students, teachers and community members to make informed energy choices, now and for a sustainable future!

Do you know an educator who champions energy education and efficiency efforts in your K-12 community?

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 2018 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Patrick Arndt of Berlin High School and Mike Steiner of Highland Community School in Milwaukee for receiving the 2018 Energy Educator of the Year award!


Dedicating nearly three decades to teaching and inspiring students and staff alike, Patrick Arndt’s passion earned him the designation of “go-to” guy for energy education in the Berlin Area School District. Pat champions connecting energy to other disciplines and the environment through relevant data, hands-on activities, and real-world experiences. Using data from this personal home solar array and electric car, Pat makes connections between his Environmental Science classroom and Technology Education; he collaborated with Building Trades to develop a solar wood drying kiln; and integration of energy education makes its way into Science Club, field trips, fundraisers, and use of the School Forest through Pat’s mentorship. Beyond the classroom, Pat is recognized for his leadership and excellence in teaching by state and national organizations, including the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT). Thousands of teachers have been impacted through his role as instructor for various teacher professional development experiences including Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) workshops and through his initiatives as the Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST) past President to promote sound curriculum development. A colleague shared “Pat makes energy education real,” and Berlin High School students agree.

 

When it comes to energy education, Mike Steiner takes a hands-on and critical thinking approach. Over the past 14 years, Mike has shared his excitement for energy teaching students of all ages from K4 to high school, as well as the community. Through his current role as the Science and Natural Grounds Coordinator at Highland Community School, Mike’s unique efforts focus on designing and building infrastructure to make energy education an integral component of the classrooms, hallways, and grounds. Mike has involved students to enhance the school’s outdoor agricultural area and natural play space through construction of two hoop houses for growing produce, designing a bicycle students pedal to power a hydroponics system, and creation of a customized renewable energy trailer with photovoltaic panels to power a rain catchment and irrigation system. Mike uses these projects, and his years as a middle and high school science teacher, to engage students, families and the community in a variety of energy lessons and experiments. Colleagues and community partners alike note Mike is a visionary whose innovative and imaginative work supplies unique educational experiences to Milwaukee’s urban King Park neighborhood.                         


 

Do you know an educator who champions energy education and efficiency efforts in your K-12 community? Nominate someone for the 2019 Energy Educator of the Year!

 2017 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Ben Nusz of Mid-State Technical College and Wes Foell of UW-Madison's Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies for receiving the 2017 Energy Educator of the Year award.

Ben Nusz is a perpetual advocate for renewable energy. Ben commits himself to providing energy education within Mid-State Technical College, the community, and within regional and national organizations. Ben has impacted hundreds if not thousands of students and community members through his energy education efforts at Mid-State, local high/middle schools, the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), and numerous companies and agencies. Ben volunteers for all Mid-State Technical College events such as Career Day, Engineering Day, and middle/high school tours. For the last three years, Ben has been working on a Constellation Energy grant that provided funds to install renewable energy systems at local schools. He coached his Mid-State Technical College students to site and design the systems and instructed high school students on the actual installations. PV systems were installed at Lincoln HS, Assumption HS, Nekoosa HS, John Edwards HS and Pittsville HS. Solar heating systems were also installed at Lincoln HS and John Edwards HS. Ben also collaborated with Almond-Bancroft High School on a renewable grant – solar assessment and installation. He has initiated a strong link that will remain for generations at local schools by providing both technical and educational support for teachers that go unmatched in any discipline.

 

Wes Foell has been a supporter of energy education at University of Wisconsin-Madison since the 1970s when he helped found the Energy Analysis and Policy (“EAP”) Graduate Program at UW-Madison. Wes has championed energy education in Wisconsin for over forty years. He developed the first computer model of the Wisconsin energy system in the mid-1970s. Even in retirement, Wes remains a major force to support energy research and education in Wisconsin, with a deep commitment to Wisconsin’s energy future. He is a visionary and philanthropist in energy education. Wes empowers students and teachers to be the best they can be, offering creative ideas and sharing his time generously. Wes Foell is a Wisconsin treasure. He is more responsible than any other person for the persistence of an interdisciplinary energy education program at the University of Wisconsin for nearly four decades. 


 2016 Energy Educators of the Year

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.

 2015 Energy Educators of the Year

Sponsored by Energy Federation, Inc. (EFI) 

- The 2015 Energy Educators of the Year are:

 
 
  • Primary Energy Educator of the Year - Jami Collins and Angela Larkins, Marshall Early Learning Center
  • Secondary Energy Educator of the Year - Scott Stankowski, Lincoln High School, Wisconsin Rapids
  • Higher Education Energy Educator of the Year - Ken Walz, Madison College
  • Community Energy Educator of the Year - Manus McDevitt and Jon Evans, Sustainable Engineering Group, Middleton
 
2015 winners received $500 to support further energy education efforts through technology and skills training. Funds awarded to the winners' schools or organizations. Winners were recognized at the Celebration of Excellence in Environmental Education Awards Banquet sponsored by the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education on Saturday, October 24 at the Monona Terrace in Madison.
 
 
 
Left to Right: Scott Stankowski (Wisconsin Rapids), Angela Larkins (Marshall), Ken Walz (Madison), Jon Evans and Svein Morner (receiving award on behalf of Manus McDevitte) (Middleton).
 
 

Jami Collins and Angela Larkins of the Marshall Early Learning Center share the Primary Energy Educator of the Year award.

 
 
Jami (left) and Angela teach and coordinate programs at the Early Learning Center in Marshall, WI. Jami spearheaded sustainability projects to reduce waste in the Marshall district by starting a milk carton recycling program. Angela created and integrated the Tiny Sprouts Garden programming across the preK through second grade curriculum with an emphasis on solar energy. By focusing on early education, this duo has built a foundation of sustainable values in the children and families they serve.
 
 


 

Scott Stankowski of Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids is named Secondary Energy Educator of the Year.

Scott is a Science teacher at Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids. He uses community resources to teach about energy, emphasizing conservation and efficiency, through labs, lessons, and personal practice. Working closely with Mid-State Technical College in Wisconsin Rapids, Scott incorporates a week long unit on wind energy and will be using the newly installed photovoltaic array on his high school for lessons, which was made possible through a grant of which Mid-State was a partner. Other energy education efforts include building solar cookers with students, a unit that explores nuclear energy, and analyzing the school buildings energy efficiency and requiring students to observe their own personal practices while developing ways to conserve and use energy more efficiently.  

Dr. Ken Walz of Madison College is named Higher Education Energy Educator of the Year.

Ken has been teaching about a wide variety of renewable energy technologies in a hands-on way at Madison College since 2003. Ken is also the Principal Investigator of the Career Education in Renewable EnergTechnologies (CERET) Program, which offers technical training and education to incumbent workers, students, and teachers in renewable energy technologies. Ken is an ad hoc instructor with KEEP, having taught 17 courses to 249 teachers who potentially reach almost 15,000 students each year. Ken was named the 2010 Wisconsin Professor of the Year through the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.


 

 

Manus McDevitt and Jon Evans of Sustainable Engineering Group in Middleton share the Community Energy Educator of the Year award.

Manus (left) is a Founding Principal of Sustainable Engineering Group, LLC. He has over 19 years of experience in HVAC design, retro-commissioning, energy efficiency engineering, and building commissioning.  

Jon (right) joined Sustainable Engineering Group in 2006. He is proficient at commissioning, retro-commissioning, energy modeling, geothermal design, LEED consulting, and solar and wind systems. 

Jon and Manus have become the “go to” people in Wisconsin when it comes to any and everything energy- and commissioning-related. It is because of their educational efforts that many facilities have installed geothermal systems and other renewable energy technologies, saving organizations and businesses thousands of dollars. They are both active on committees of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance and are key design/build partners of Miron Construction.

 2014 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Betsy Buckley of Waunakee High School, Karen Olson of Baraboo High School, and Melissa Rickert of CESA 10 for receiving the 2014 Energy Educator of the Year Awards!

Formal Energy Educators of the Year - Betsy Buckley and Karen Olson

BetsyBuckley-(2).pngWhile Betsy is an effective educator, she also continues to be an active learner herself and has earned over 20 environmental education credits (many of them through KEEP), is a resource teacher for fellow teachers for the American Meteorological Society’s DataStreme program, and has earned an Energy Education Certificate from UW-Stevens Point. In 2010, Betsy received the National Education Association/Target “Green Across America” grant to create and fund supplies for a school-wide energy audit. In 2012, the Discovery Channel selected Betsy to be one of five teachers in the U.S. to serve as an IMPACT Teacher Ambassador which allowed her to work with Costa Rican students and teachers in remote locations alongside scientists. Betsy led a group of 30 Waunakee students on a science and service oriented trip to Costa Rica in June 2013 and will be taking students to Costa Rica again, as well as to the Galapagos Islands and the Amazon Rainforest, in the summer of 2015. 

 
 
 
 

karen-olson.pngKaren has also taken many KEEP courses and has earned the Energy Education Certificate from UW-Stevens Point. She has taken courses on Climate Change through the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has worked with the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at UW-Madison to learn about converting cellulosic biomass to ethanol and other advanced biofuels and ways to integrate this technology into the biotechnology courses she teaches. 

 
 


Together, Karen and Betsy co-chaired the staff/student Green Team at Waunakee H.S. and facilitated the all-school sustainable transportation initiative which inspired 25% of the school’s students and staff to participate in a quarter-long competition to adopt more sustainable transportation habits. 

 
 

 Nonformal Energy Educator of the Year - Melissa Rickert

Melissa-Rickert---Energy-Manager---Copy1.pngMelissa Rickert of CESA 10 is the Non-Formal Energy Educator of the Year. Her nomination states, “Melissa derives a sense of purpose while pursuing her lifelong quest to educate people on how to conserve energy across the State of Wisconsin. Her passion is contagious and always generates excitement in groups she’s working with whether its teachers, administrators, or members of the community, she has an impact. Having had the opportunity on several occasions to watch Melissa “in action” giving an energy presentation, you become immediately aware it is what she was born to do. Melissa has been incredibly creative and prolific in her energy education efforts, through video clips, e-tips, presentations, reports, and press releases; she has reached thousands with an informed and enthusiastic message. Melissa’s work has contributed to an average savings of 20% on energy bills in the districts CESA 10 Energy Managers work with.”


 

 

 2014 Awards Banquet 

 2013 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Jenny Heinzen of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and Scott Liddicoat from the Green Bay Area Public School District for receiving the 2013 Energy Educator of the Year Awards!

 

Nonformal Energy Educator of the Year - Jenny Heinzen
 
Jenny taught with Lakeshore Technical College (LTC) for ten years where over 1,200 students benefitted from her energy education efforts. Currently, as the Curriculum and Training Coordinator at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), Jenny teaches over 10 different courses and has developed curriculum for MREA courses. She has also helped to develop the nationally recognized Wind Energy Technology Program and assisted in writing the Safe Access, Fall arrest, Evacuation, and Rescue (SAFER) curriculum at LTC; she sits on RENEW Wisconsin’s Board of Directors, is a Member of the Small Wind Conference Coordinating Committee and Wisconsin's Public Service Commissioning Wind Siting Council, and won the 2008 Small Wind Conference Small Wind Educator Award, to name a few accomplishments.
 


 Formal Energy Educator of the Year - Scott Liddicoat

Scott is a Science teacher at Southwest High School in Green Bay. He has been a teacher for 28 years; 21 of which have been in the Green Bay Area Public School District. In the last three years, Scott taught classes he developed on energy conservation and renewable energy at Southwest High School. Students taking those classes are eligible to earn transcribed credits for Renewable Energy courses through a partnership with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. The 4,000 students and over 2,000 staff of the Green Bay Area Public School District benefit from his work every day as a result of the leadership he has provided the district Energy Committee. Liddicoat has also played an important role in the development and implementation of Wisconsin Public Service's SolarWise for Schools curriculum. SolarWise received national recognition as the recipient of the Green Power Education outreach Program Award for 2012.​​​​

 2012 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Steve Knudsen of Newman Catholic High School in Wausau for receiving the 2012 Energy Educator of the Year Award!

Formal Energy Educator of the Year – Steve Knudsen

Steve.jpgDue to his involvement with KEEP as an ad hoc instructor, Steve has taught energy education courses to over 400 K-12 Wisconsin teachers. He has conducted a number of energy education workshops at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Fair and other venues, reaching over 150 participants.  Steve uses his strong background in electrical engineering and physical science to ensure energy concepts being taught through the Wisconsin K-12 Energy Education Program (KEEP) are accurate and thorough. During his time at Newman Catholic, he provided strong energy education to high school students. Steve is currently employed with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

 2011 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Mike Aprill of Random Lake High School and Tehri Parker of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) for receiving the 2011 Energy Educator of the Year Awards!

Formal Energy Educator of the Year – Mike Aprill 

Mike.jpgMike has worked with his students for over ten years to transform Random Lake School District into an eco-friendly environment.  He has obtained grants, served on the district’s energy committee, helped secure their wind turbine, championed the cause for energy reduction, and challenged the district leadership for change. His initiatives have led to significant changes in the culture of the community.  Read more of Mike’s story here​.


 


 Nonformal Energy Educator of the Year – Tehri Parker

Tehri.jpgTehri served as the Executive Director of the MREA for fifteen years. She now resides in Colorado and continues to serve Wisconsin and MREA as the organization’s Regional Programs Director. Tehri has been working in the renewable energy education field for over twenty years. Under her direction the MREA grew from a local grassroots organization to a nationally recognized training organization with twenty staff, two offices and working partnerships throughout the Midwest. In addition to program development, she was instrumental in increasing energy literacy among students and their teachers. She was a part of the team that built the first Energy Cycle bike generators for educating Wisconsin students. She has served on the advisory committee of KEEP and is a former KEEP ad hoc instructor.​

 2010 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Connie Rauterkus of Crivitz High School and Teri Eberhardy of St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran School in Schofield for receiving the 2010 Energy Educator of the Year Awards!

Formal Energy Educator of the Year – Connie Rauterkus

Connie.jpgAs a science teacher at Gillett High School, Connie set high standards for herself, her students, and her community and she constantly demonstrated her desire to improve her school, her staff, and her community. Throughout her career in the Gillett School District she provided educational leadership in the areas of energy education, provided follow-through with projects, lesson plans and a desire to spread her knowledge of energy education concepts to the staff. When evaluating who Connie has impacted through energy education in the past 15 years it would be easy to say her impact is felt by thousands of students and dozens of teachers in and out of the Gillett School District. Connie now finds herself teaching in the Crivitz School District.


Nonformal Energy Educator of the Year – Teri Eberhardy

Teri.jpgTeri was an effective parent volunteer for St. Peter Evangelical Lutheran School in Schofield where she was instrumental in securing various grants for classrooms, one specifically focused on solar energy. Principal Scott Huebner advocated for her influence on the school’s ability to introduce energy education into their curricula and purchase teaching aids that would not have otherwise been possible in the school budget.

 2009 Energy Educators of the Year

Congratulations to Lauren Ebbecke of Wausau East High School and Clay Sterling of the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) for receiving the 2009 Energy Educator of the Year Awards!

Formal Energy Educator of the Year – Lauren Ebbecke
Lauren.jpgIn addition to incorporating KEEP activities into her high school science classes, Lauren generated a great deal of funding support to make energy-related initiatives possible. Lauren won a mini-grant for Solar Cars, a Reach for the Stars grant for an Energy Bike, and a Wind Opportunity Grant from Focus on Energy ($100,000).


 


 


Nonformal Energy Educator of the Year – Clay SterlingClay.jpg
Clay has been with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association since 2000 and is currently the Regional Training Officer where he works with educational institutions, local organizations, and business owners to arrange contract trainings throughout the Midwest. Clay has worked increased renewable energy education for thousands of people through workshops, seminars, and presentations.

 

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