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We are proud to announce the recipients of our 2018 Environmental Hero Award: water activist and author Florencia Ramirez of Oxnard, and ocean/climate activist organization SeaLegacy. The awards are granted as part of CEC’s annual Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival being held Saturday, April 21 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Alameda Park.

At the first large community festival to be held since last winter’s Thomas Fire and subsequent deadly Montecito debris flow, events over Earth Month will connect the dots between climate change and a more than 300% increase in extreme weather catastrophes worldwide since 1980.

“In keeping with Santa Barbara’s history of turning disaster into an opportunity for meaningful change – such as the eras following the 1925 earthquake and the 1969 oil spill – the Community Environmental Council believes that the recent disasters present an opportunity to build momentum around climate resilience,” commented Sigrid Wright, CEO/Executive Director of CEC. “Our two heroes this year reflect dual approaches to building climate resilience: direct, mindful action in our daily lives – like Florencia’s call to reconsider each meal – and banding together en masse to safeguard the ecosystems that we depend on to stabilize climate – like SeaLegacy’s international movement for healthy, abundant oceans.”

Environmental Hero Awards

SeaLegacy and Ramirez will each accept the honor at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 at the festival Main Stage. SeaLegacy, whose Starving Polar Bear video went viral in late 2017, emphasizes that healthy oceans absorb carbon from the atmosphere and help reduce the impact of climate change – a critical component of building climate resilience. The award will be accepted by local resident and SeaLegacy patron Jodie Willard.

Oxnard resident and award-winning author Florencia Ramirez, whose book Eat Less Water has recently been featured on CBS and NPR, draws a direct line between climate resilience and adapting to a water-constrained world. After accepting her award, she will share her kitchen-table approach to protecting water supplies in a cooking demonstration at the festival’s Roots stage on Saturday at 4:15 p.m.

The awards will be co-presented by musician Kenny Loggins and Congressman Salud Carbajal, a past CEC Environmental Hero Award recipient. Loggins, a Montecito resident, has taken part in multiple events to support the community since the Thomas Fire and subsequent debris flow. A deeply committed environmentalist with a long history of advocating for the planet and green parenting, his song “Conviction of the Heart” was coined the “unofficial anthem of the environmental movement” by Al Gore. As part of the Environmental Hero Awards ceremony, he will play this and other  tunes with his daughter Hana.

Carbajal, whose congressional district has been hard-hit by multiple weather-related disasters in the past year, has made climate a top priority. His first legislative action in Congress was to introduce The California Clean Coast Act, a bill that would permanently prohibit future oil and gas leasing off the coast of the entire state of California to simultaneously protect our ecosystems and push the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

One of only 3 California appointees to the White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience under Obama, Carbajal is currently part of five caucuses that are committed to preserving our environment, including the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.

Explore Ecology Environmental Stewardship Awards

For a second year, CEC is partnering to bring the Explore Ecology Environmental Stewardship Awards to local students, teachers, and classrooms in Santa Barbara County that have spearheaded positive change to help the environment. The 2018 award recipients are:

  • Gabriel Ramirez (3rd grade, La Patera Elementary) is the champion of the school’s Composting Program. He’s taught other students how to compost, collects compost at lunch, and on weekends rides his bike to pick up trash off the beach.
  • Pyp Pratt (4th grade, Marymount) goes to Beach Cleanups and finds a lot of trash. Pyp created and gave a PowerPoint presentation at his school about the importance of beach cleanups and has spoken to neighbors, family, and other adults about the importance of keeping our coastline clean.
  • Sarah Dent (7th grade, Goleta Valley Junior High) created and leads gardening projects at her school. At the beginning of the year, Sarah noticed neglected planting boxes at school. She repaired them, purchased tools and plants, and transformed them into a beautiful flower bed.
  • Josh Benson (10th grade, Dos Pueblos High) is the founder and leader of Tomorrows Green, a youth-orientated environmental organization, that promotes, organizes, and implements environmental activities such as beach cleanups. Josh is also a Beach Captain at East Beach for Coastal Cleanup Day.
  • Jill Means (3rd-grade teacher, Ellwood Elementary) is a big believer in teaching sustainability every day. Jill holds a recycling drive with help from her team of teachers to raise money for her school, has a worm bin in her class, and creates ways to make her classroom (and school) a greener place.
  • Jose Caballero (Environmental Science AP & Small Scale Food Production, Santa Barbara High) inspires hundreds of students to care for the environment. He received many nominations from his students, including one who said, “Jose is the most passionate and inspiring teacher I’ve ever had.”
  • The Adams Ocean Guardian Ambassadors (Adams School) are advocates for reducing plastic waste on campus and in the community. They are working on a plastic straws reduction campaign in the City of SB, encouraging restaurants to offer only “Straws Upon Request.” See KEY news coverage of this here.

Recipients will be honored and give acceptance speeches on the Kids Stage on Saturday, April 21 at 12:45 p.m., and afterward will join CEC Environmental Heroes Florencia Ramirez and SeaLegacy on the Main Stage at 2:00 p.m. for further recognition.

Nicole Wald
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Nicole Wald

Nicole Wald is a freelance writer and educator in Santa Barbara, CA with a passion for helping the planet. She supports CEC in developing content for social media, PR, marketing, and the annual Earth Day Festival. Part of this work includes gathering stories of people along the Central Coast who consciously take steps to reduce their carbon footprint.
Nicole Wald
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