GENESEO — Brian Sheldon, an earth science and environmental science teacher at Livonia High School, has been chosen to receive this year’s Livingston County Earth Day Award.
The annual award, presented by the Livingston County Environmental Management Council, goes to an individual or organization to recognize outstanding achievements that are directed to help preserve, improve, or educate about the Livingston County environment. The achievement may have occurred during the previous year, or may involve ongoing efforts that span a number of years.
Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is a global event. This year marks the events 50th anniversary.
Sheldon, who has taught at Livonia for more than 10 years, was recognized by the EMC for his dedication to student education, and his innovative and engaging science curriculum.
The EMC noted Sheldon’s creative approach to bringing real-world experience to his students, from tours in the community, to research projects in the field, to clean up events in the community.
Sheldon, who was also nominated for the award in 2019 and 2018, is known among his peers as a catalyst for learning, an agent for change, and an outstanding educator.
Working with his students, Sheldon has created new opportunities, such as a recycling program, an environmental club and a college level course, Global Environment, with SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry on the Livonia campus. As part of the ESF course, students complete college-level work, including detailed field work and community presentations.
In 2018, the first year Livingston County coordinated county-wide cleanup efforts, Sheldon and Livonia students conducted a community cleanup in the village and schools grounds the week of Earth Day. But the students put their own novel twist on Earth Day, renaming it “Save the Humans Day” and used it as the starting point for a week’s worth of environmental awareness activities.
“Earth Day is not about saving Earth. It is really about securing a quality of life for future generations,” Sheldon told The Livingston County News at the time.
More than 20 students from the Science National Honor Society and Climate Connections volunteered for the project, which took place on Earth Day, which was a Sunday that year. The group collected 27 bags of mostly plastic, though they also found several shopping bags with dog waste in them.
“The kids who took part in the clean-up were all really surprised at how much garbage there was and now they have an eye out for the problem,” Sheldon told The LCN. “All of them have said they see litter now that they have helped to clean it up.”
The EMC, in announcing the award, said it commends Sheldon for his contributions to the science and environmental education of our youth and is pleased to select him as the recipient of the Earth Day Award on the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day.
This was the 22nd award presentation. Last year’s recipient was Katherine Humphrey and her family, owners of All Western Evergreen Nursery and Christmas Tree Farm in Springwater.
Past recipients of the award include Conesus Lake advocate Jack Baldwin, who in 2018 became the award’s first two-time winner; Geneseo Central School science teacher Randy French, SUNY Geneseo FORCES, or Friends of Recreation Conservation and Environmental Stewardship, club, Harold M. “Tim” Shay, Davis Nagel, naturalist Ron Walker, Jean Meekin and the Keshequa Central School District’s Earth Club.
The Environmental Management Council was created in 1979 to work with the Board of Supervisors, local municipalities, and citizens to protect, preserve, develop and use the county’s natural resources. The council members are all volunteers.
The award is typically presented during a Livingston County Board of Supervisors meeting around the date of Earth Day. It is anticipated that an award presentation will be made during a future board of supervisors meeting once meetings are able to resume with in-person public participation.