Young Environmentalists receive awards at state fair

At the Delaware State Fair last week, Gov. John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin honored two dozen Delawareans and groups of all ages for their environmental leadership, innovation and dedication.

“This afternoon, we recognized a broad cross section of Delawareans who contribute to the conservation of our natural resources and the stewardship of our environment,” said Garvin. “We congratulate these volunteers, organizers, photographers and anglers — conservationists and environmentalists all — for their work that brought us here today, and we look forward to their future contributions.”

Honorees included: seven Young Environmentalists of the Year, eight individuals and four groups recognized as Volunteers of the Year, three Youth Fishing Tournament winners, winners of this year’s hunting and fishing photo contests, and four winners of the new Delaware Watersheds Photo Contest, plus Best in Show.

“These awards underscore how every Delawarean can have an impact in protecting and conserving our natural resources, while also raising awareness for environmental stewardship,” Carney said. “I’m also inspired by the award winners’ dedication to making our state a better place to live through their time and talents, and proud to recognize them for their environmental leadership and innovation.”

Local residents who were among DNREC’s Young Environmentalists of the Year included:

• Middle school — Jade Carter, 13, an eighth-grader at Sussex Academy in Georgetown, founded the first middle school chapter of the Surfrider Foundation in the state. The Surfrider organization is dedicated to protecting and enjoying the oceans, waves, and beaches through volunteer activities including regular beach cleanups. An avid volunteer, she is currently planning fundraisers and cleanups for the chapter. She has also channeled her passion for volunteerism and environmental projects into starting a recycling program at her school, including recycling bins specially decorated to draw attention to the importance of recycling.

• Special recognition: At ages 6 and 8 and in the first and second grades, respectively, sisters Caroline and Isabella Nacchia of Frankford are already budding entomologists. Caroline is passionate about monarch butterfly conservation, working tirelessly each summer since she was three to raise monarchs from caterpillars to chrysalis to butterflies. Last summer, she raised about 350 butterflies. Butterflies often come to her in the garden and perch on her finger, for which her friends have dubbed her “the Butterfly Whisperer.” As a beekeeper, Isabella understands the importance of bees, is eager to help them, and inspires her peers to do the same. She can identify larva, worker bees (females) and drones (males), and honey, nectar and queen cups, and is comfortable handling the inhabitants of her hives.

The Young Environmentalist of the Year Awards are presented annually to Delaware students who have worked to protect, restore, or enhance the state’s natural resources. For more information, contact Joanna Wilson, DNREC Public Affairs, at (302) 739-9902, or