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2020 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards Winners Announced

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 - Awardees recognized for educating students and the public, utilizing volunteers, and creating conservation projects
ContactBrian McGovern
After Hrs512-239-5000

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality revealed the winners of the prestigious Texas Environmental Excellence Awards today. TCEQ Commissioners Jon Niermann, Emily Lindley, and Bobby Janecka, along with Texas Governor Greg Abbott, jointly selected the ten winners from nine categories, based on the recommendations of a Blue Ribbon Committee.

The 28th annual edition of these awards includes efforts in water and energy conservation, public education about natural resources, and pollution reduction.

"Texans throughout the state should be inspired by the example of these winners," said TCEQ Chairman Jon Niermann. "Their dedication, hard work, and innovation makes us all very proud."

The TEEA categories and the honorees for each:


Keep Texas Recycling – Rural Recycling Cooperative addresses the recycling needs of over 500 entities covering an area of 43,000 square miles. KTR coordinates the collection, transport, and sale of recyclables for entities that are unable to establish cost-effective recycling programs.


Austin College – Sneed Prairie Restoration utilizes 100 acres of former Blackland Prairie to provide opportunities for learning land management techniques. More than 1,100 college students, faculty, and staff monitor prescribed burns, grazing, and mowing in a formal experimental design, tracked using a peer-reviewed monitoring protocol. To date, more than 11,600 schoolchildren and their teachers have visited the facility for field trips led by the undergraduate college students.


Benjamin A. Rawald – Milkweed for Monarchs is an effort led by Ben, an Eagle Scout and Senior at Brackett High School, to plant milkweed in response to the rapid decline of migrating monarch butterfly populations through Val Verde and Kinney Counties. Ben worked with a biology professor at Sul Ross University to develop seed balls that could be easily distributed. More than 400 youths from local schools and Laughlin Air Force Base participated in his project.

Innovative Operations/Management

City of Frisco – Household Chemical and Electronics Reuse and Disposal Center started as a small household hazardous waste program and has since grown to accommodate the needs of more than 800 visitors per month. The Center collected 547,915 pounds of HHW in 2018 and, through an onsite reuse center, diverted 115,241 pounds of material for reuse.

Pollution Prevention

University of Texas at Arlington – Pollution Prevention Innovative Community Partnership has delivered “Lean & Green” technical training and assistance to 112 organizations in Texas, resulting in the identification of 62,100,000 annual kWh reductions, 36,000 MTCO2e reductions, 19.5 million gallons of water reductions, 16,500 tons of solid waste reductions, and $27.3 million in savings. To date, they have taught the benefits of value-stream mapping to more than 1,400 individuals.

Water Conservation

New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) – Customer Leak Awareness Outreach Campaign utilizes an advanced water metering infrastructure to increase the efficiency and accuracy of water use data collection. Customers whose meters report continuous water consumption are alerted that they may have a leak using voice response technology and text messages, resulting in 95% of these issues being resolved within nine days. NBU estimates a total program water savings of 56.8 million gallons since inception.


Keep Brownsville Beautiful – Youth Advisory Board is a youth-led organization comprised of high school and college students assisting in the planning and management of events hosted or co-hosted by Keep Brownsville Beautiful. In 2018-2019, the Youth Advisory Board contributed 33,536 volunteer hours and completed 29 beautification projects.

Environmental Educator of the Year

From Paschal High School – Andrew Brinker has taught AP Environmental Science and AP Biology for 13 years. He uses hands-on lab projects to teach topics such as land and water use, biodiversity, and air and water pollution, among other subjects. Mr. Brinker also sponsors the Science Club and Recycling Club. In the fall of 2017, he and his students worked alongside Texas Christian University to begin the Trinity River Turtle Survey which involved catching, tagging, and collecting data from over 1,000 turtles.

Environmental Educator of the Year

From Valley View High School – Corina Fuentes Garza teaches Biology, Anatomy, and Physiology, and was instrumental in the creation of the school’s AP Environmental Science course. Ms. Fuentes Garza also founded and serves as a mentor for the Environmental Awareness Club, which provides students with opportunities to be involved in various environmental events outside the classroom, such as native species habitat restoration for monarch butterflies and endangered turtles and maintaining a community garden.

TEEA winners will be recognized at a banquet the evening of May 13 as part of TCEQ’s Environmental Trade Fair and Conference at the Austin Convention Center.