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Santa Maria Teacher Riccardo Magni Receives Presidential Innovation Award

Pioneer Valley High environmental educator is the only Californian this year to receive the nationwide honor

Pioneer Valley High School science teacher Riccardo Magni received a presidential award plaque from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at a ceremony Wednesday in Santa Maria.

Magni was the only California award winner out of 18 instructors recognized this year nationwide. The Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators program was recently created by a partnership between the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the EPA.

Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest, was scheduled to personally congratulate Magni later Wednesday.

“Mr. Magni is working to prepare students to be future leaders in protecting the environment and we are all fortunate to have teachers like him,” Blumenfeld said. “I am thrilled to recognize his achievements, including his work to create water monitoring projects at Jim May Park and the Summer Science Research Institute.”

Magni organized students to begin monthly testing of a local pond at Jim May Park. Students test the water for environmental factors, analyze the data and share results with a local elementary school.

He leads field trips to the Avila Sea Life Center, where students participate in a workshop, collect ocean water samples and study sea life. He recently founded the Summer Science Research Institute, a six-week summer program during which students have built a wind turbine and a wave energy device to extract energy from the ocean.

Magni was named Teacher of the Year for 2012-13 by the Santa Barbara County Education Office. He has secured more than $45,000 in grants for his school.

The PIAEE winners receive a $2,000 cash prize in addition to the commemorative plaque. The teacher’s school also receives a $2,000 cash prize to use toward environmental education programs.

The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District nominated him for the award, and the APCD board adopted a resolution of recognition for Magni. The resolution stated, “Riccardo Magni has brought great honor to Pioneer Valley High School, the Santa Maria Joint Union High School District and Santa Barbara County in his leadership in environmental education and through all the achievements that resulted in his selection for this award.”

Click here for more information about the other winners from around the nation.

— Michael Ardito represents the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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