Mother Earth Living

Heinz Awards Honor Environmental Leaders

In honor of its 15th anniversary, the Heinz Awards focused solely on the environment this year and honored 10 people who are helping to make the planet clean, green and more sustainable.
By Susan Melgren
September 2009 Web
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Robert Berkebile received a Heinz Awards for his advocacy of green building and his promotion of sustainable design and planning.
Photo Courtesy The Heinz Awards


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This week Teresa Heinz and the Heinz Family Foundation announced the recipients of the Heinz Awards, which this year focused solely on the environment.

“At this unique time in history, when the environment is more important than ever to our lives, our economy, our national security and our future, it is only fitting that we focus exclusively on this critical topic,” says Teresa Heinz, chairwoman of the Heinz Family Foundation.

This year’s ten winners were:

• Joel Salatin, farmer, author and lecturer, is honored for creating alternative, environmentally friendly farming techniques, spawning a movement towards local, sustainable agriculture that has been replicated by family farms around the country.

• Kirk Smith, professor of global environmental health at the University of California, Berkeley, is honored for his research on the use of solid fuels such as wood or coal in indoor cookstoves – a common practice among the poorest peoples in developing countries – and its impact on human and environmental health.

• Deborah Rice, toxicologist with the Environmental and Occupational Health Program at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is honored for her research yielding new understanding about exposure to toxicants during human development.

• Robert Berkebile, founder of the American Institute of Architects’ National Committee on the Environment, is honored for his green building advocacy and promotion of sustainable design and planning.

• Beverly Wright, head of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice at Dillard University in New Orleans, is honored for her work as an environmental justice advocate. She tackles issues of environmental racism and works to raise the profile of environmental issues in poor and minority communities nationwide.

• Chip Giller, founder of Grist, is honored for creating an online media platform devoted to environmental news and views.

• Thomas Smith, director of the Texas office of consumer and environmental group Public Citizen, is honored for his advocacy of wind and solar energy efficiency.

• Christopher Field, founding director of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science and professor of biology and environmental earth systems science at Stanford University, is honored for his leadership and innovation in carbon cycle and climate science.

• P. Dee Boersma, Wadsworth Endowed Chair in Conservation Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle, is honored for developing greater understanding of the impact of humans on marine ecosystems.

• Ashok Gadgil, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Berkeley, is honored for his work as an inventor and a humanitarian. His work has helped to reduce health risks, improve energy efficiency and enhance the quality of life in developing countries.

Each year, five recipients are chosen, one each for five different categories. This year, however, in honor of the awards’ 15th anniversary and the late U.S. Senator John Heinz’s long-standing commitment to the environment, 10 individuals were each given a $100,000 prize for their achievements in helping to create a cleaner, greener and more sustainable planet. Although this is the first year the Heinz Foundation focused only on the environment, the winners were chosen because they were working to address environmental problems that intersected with one of the original five categories.

The awards were created by Teresa Heinz in the ’90s to honor the memory of her husband, Sen. Heinz, by recognizing individuals in the areas of greatest importance to him: arts and humanities, environment, human condition, public policy and technology, and the economy and employment.

For more information, visit the Heinz Award’s website.

More about green advocates 

• Through Global Green USA, Matt Petersen tackles environmental issues, both local and global. 

• Read about how members of Natural Home’s editorial advisory board are making strides in sustainability. 

• Actress Daryl Hannah founded dhlovelife, a website filled with environmental news, tips and products.


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