The Pittsfield-based Center for EcoTechnology was among 16 winners from Massachusetts recognized on May 10 at the 2016 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's New England regional office.
The environmental leaders were among three dozen recipients across New England honored for helping to improve New England's environment.
Each year the EPA New England recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states who have worked to protect or improve the region's environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
CET was honored in the category of "Business, Industry, Trade or Professional," for helping people and businesses save energy and reduce waste over the past 40 years.
The award highlighted CET's most recent project, a partnership with the state Department of Environmental Protection to offer RecyclingWorks Massachusetts, which provides recycling assistance for businesses and institutions.
The partnership has led collaborative efforts to address and divert wasted food by helping hundreds of food waste processors, recovery agencies, haulers and thousands of businesses divert wasted food and build a strong industry to comply with the state's food waste disposal ban. CET recently expanded its work to Connecticut to replicate strategies tested in Massachusetts.
Since 2012, the Center for EcoTechnology has helped businesses divert 20,389 tons of wasted organics, including wasted food, annually, according to an EPA synopsis of the organization.
The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
"We are proud to honor those citizens, businesses and organizations who have gone the extra mile to help protect and preserve our region's natural resources," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "These New England award winners are committed to making our towns, cities and countryside of New England healthy, vibrant places with clean air, land and water."
To see the full list of honorees, visit www.epa.gov/environmental-merit-awards-new-england.
When Fiona Ferrone, an eighth-grader at Berkshire Country Day School in Stockbridge, was given the assignment to complete the USC Shoah Foundation's IWitness Video Challenge to film change in action in her community, she thought of Berkshire County Arc.
"I decided to hold a walk for the faculty and students at my school to raise awareness for autism," she said.
Although Ferrone and her family live in Spencertown, N.Y., she chose to have the funds benefit Berkshire County Arc, located in the same county as her school.
The walk was held on Friday, April 22.
"The entrance fee was $3, and I chose to give my donations to Berkshire County Arc because it's local I wanted the students in the Berkshires to have the money they donated still near them — affecting the people closer to home — not having it go far away to a place that none of them or their families know about or have any connections to," Ferrone said.
The walk raised a total of $908, which has been designated to support Berkshire County Arc's Autism Sensory Integration Program. The program serves children with autism and other sensory processing disorders through structured therapeutic and recreational activities that improve their gross motor, fine motor and oral motor development. The program also offers a lending library available to caregivers to borrow equipment used in the program for home use.
In a letter to BCD Head of School Paul Lindenmaier, she thanked the school community for supporting her efforts, eighth-grade history teacher Sarah Pitcher-Hoffman for assigning the IWitness Challenge, and school nurse, Emily Daigneault, for also helping with the event.
"I could not have done so without the assistance of every single person that joined me," Ferrone wrote.
For information about Berkshire County Arc's Autism Sensory Integration Program, call 413-499-4241, ext. 227.
County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.