Announcing Our 2022 Environmental Champions

The Rockfall Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2022 Environmental Champion Awards. The award winners were selected from nominations submitted by members of the community across the Lower Connecticut River Valley. Krishna Winston has been selected for the Tom ODell Distinguished Service Award, which honors long-term accomplishments in environmental conservation and preservation. Certificates of Appreciation are being awarded to Geoff Picard of The Killingworth Land Trust and Jen Malaguti of the Steward Outdoor Day School in Ivoryton, CT.

The awards will be presented at the Foundation’s Annual Meeting, Grants and Awards Celebration on Thursday, October 6 at the Rockfall Foundation’s deKoven House Community Center.

Wearing a mask is optional.

Tom ODell Distinguished Service Award Recipient

In 1989 Krishna Winston was appointed to the task force that designed Middletown’s recycling program, and from the time recycling became mandatory in Connecticut, she has chaired Middletown’s Resource Recycling Advisory Commission. She works closely with the Recycling Coordinator to promote waste-reduction and resource preservation, and volunteers for numerous events, from hazardous-waste collections to repair cafés. She borrowed the idea for the Swap Shack from several towns in Massachusetts.

Last year Krishna joined the new Pollinator Pathway group. In 2022 she became the convener of the Sustainable Middletown Team and a member of the Middletown Clean Energy Task Force.

As a board member, she supports the Jonah Center for Earth and Art as well as its offshoot, the Environmental Collective Impact Network (Ecoin). One Ecoin initiative she found especially gratifying involved mounting successful opposition—with little time to spare—to the City’s plan of installing nine synthetic-turf athletic fields.

At Wesleyan, where Krishna taught German for fifty years, she advocated for recycling and other environmental measures from the 1970s on. She remains a member of the sustainability committee, SAGES, and is proud to hold the title of professor emerita in the College of the Environment, as well as being professor emerita of German Studies. Her lifelong interest in the environment motivated her to create an eclectic course for first-year students called “The Simple Life,” which began with God’s granting Adam dominion over all of nature and concluded with the latest science on climate change. Students who took that course often went on to major in environmental studies.

For twenty-three years, Krishna also coordinated a Mellon-Foundation program, funded at Wesleyan and a number of other colleges and universities, that prepared intellectually gifted undergraduates of color to earn Ph.D.s and eventually bring diversity to the professoriate. She continues to pursue social justice through her sustainability work. This summer she can often be found at the Middletown Farmers’ Market, offering education on recycling and composting.

Certificates of Appreciation Recipients

Jen Malaguti is Director/Head Teacher at Steward Outdoor School, a unique 740-acre classroom (k-8th grade) that provides hands-on learning in nature in Ivoryton, CT. Jen holds a BA in Developmental Psychology, an AS in Chemical Dependency, an M.Ed in Curriculum and Instruction, K-8 from Keene State College, and her CT teaching certification in grades 1-6. Her love for nature and the world around her was supported and enriched through her childhood days at Bushy Hill Nature Center. After teaching in public school for eight years in New Hampshire, she was a Semi-Finalist for the 2011 NH Teacher of the Year Award.

Due in part to her efforts in bringing sustainability practices to her school, she returned to Bushy Hill in 2012 as the Summer Camp and School Program Coordinator. In 2016, Jen took over as the Director of the nature center, expanding its outreach programs for youth and adults alike. In January 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, it became apparent what the local children needed: an outdoor school. Opening the Steward Outdoor Day School has been a life-long dream come true for Jen. She is able to combine many of her passions in one place. She feels that education and the environment are paramount to our future.

Geoff Picard is a member and Director of the Killingworth Land Trust who is dedicated to land preservation and conservation. He understands how essential preserving land is and its value to his community and is known as an engaging volunteer who knows how to work with others and get things done. In 18 months, Geoff was instrumental in helping complete a land acquisition project of 24 acres through a state-funded grant and a fundraising campaign. This acquisition helped create a 75-acre protected open space parcel, allowing opportunities for connecting trails to existing town-owned land to the north and to the Platt Nature Center and Parmelee Farm trail system. The Preserve houses various caves, ledges, and fauna, including a blue heron rookery around a lake along Route 80.

All are invited to join in honoring the awardees at our 2022 Annual Meeting, Grants and Awards Celebration on Thursday, October 6 at 6:00 PM.

Wearing a mask is optional.

Find more information and register for the event here.

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