Environment Minister Mark H Durkan today joined Belfast Harbour in encouraging primary school pupils across Northern Ireland to help find the region’s ‘greenest teacher’.
The Minister made the call as he helped launch Belfast Harbour’s annual Green Teacher of the Year Award, the unique competition which aims to reward primary school teachers for taking responsibility for the environment and eco issues.
Derry teacher, Miss Stevenson from St Joseph’s Primary School, finished fourth in last year’s award after being nominated by her class and chosen by the judges. Miss Stevenson from Macosquin Primary School finished sixth.
Speaking at the launch, Environment Minister Mark H Durkan said:
“Recycling levels throughout Northern Ireland are on the rise which is extremely encouraging, but it is absolutely vital that awareness of environmental issues continues to be heightened. It is particularly important that our young people are educated on the importance of ‘green’ issues and that they learn to see all materials as potential resources if treated in a responsible manner.
“Belfast Harbour’s Green Teacher of the Year Award is a fine example of the fantastic work being carried out with schools and I would strongly urge any pupils whose teachers have paid particular attention to environmental issues to nominate them for the award.
“It is my aim to create a better environment and a stronger economy. This initiative helps towards this aim by giving children a voice in applauding the work that they and their teachers are doing in schools for the environment.”
Organised by Belfast Harbour and Action Renewables, the competition has been revamped this year with two winners set to be crowned – one for Greater Belfast and a winner selected from schools throughout the rest of Northern Ireland. In a further change to previous years, this year’s finals event will involve an arts-themed challenge day in Belfast which will be delivered by Young At Art, one of Northern Ireland’s leading children’s arts charities.
Roy Adair, Belfast Harbour CEO, commented:
“Belfast Harbour is strongly committed to an extensive community engagement programme which includes a lot of partnership work with schools and the Green Teacher Awards is an integral part of that. Now in its sixth year, the event is a firmly established favourite amongst teachers and pupils alike and plays an important role in educating our next generation of leaders about the importance of caring for their local environment.
“The event has gone from strength to strength each year and we hope that the new format, which is rewarding two teachers instead of one, will encourage even more pupils than before to get involved and nominate their teacher for the award.”
Thousands of pupils in over 850 primary schools across Northern Ireland are being given the opportunity to help their teacher be crowned ‘Belfast Harbour Green Teacher of the Year’ by telling Action Renewables, in no more than 100 words, about the hard work their teacher does to look after the environment and educate children about ‘green’ issues.
All entries must be made to Action Renewables by Friday 17th October, when they will be judged by a panel of experts, including David Knott, Environmental Manager, Belfast Harbour, Clare McKeown, Sustainable Development Manager, Belfast City Council, Catherine Gleave, Education Officer, RSPB and Laura Coey, Education Officer, Action Renewables.
Nicola Branagh, Business Development Manager, Action Renewables, said:
“Action Renewables are extremely proud to be working with Belfast Harbour again this year on the Green Teacher of the Year competition. The judges had a really difficult task last year in crowning a winner because of the extremely high standard and sheer volume of entries, and I am confident that this year will be no exception.
It is encouraging to see that schools in Northern Ireland are so genuinely committed to including environmental preservation and green issues within the curriculum. It is also exciting for us to see an increasing number of Green Teacher entries including elements of Renewable Energy, and I would encourage all of the schools entering the competition this year to highlight any Renewable Energy based projects they have been working on. ”
Six finalist teachers and their classes – three from Greater Belfast and three from the rest of Northern Ireland - will be invited to take part in the all-expenses-paid fun Challenge Day, where they will meet Webster, Belfast Harbour’s environmental guardian, and engage in art projects which focus on recycling and producing pieces of art from a wide range of daily household materials.
The challenge day will conclude with two teachers being awarded the coveted Belfast Harbour Green Teacher of the Year title and winning a trip to the RSPB Reserve in Belfast Harbour Estate and free entry to W5.
Last year’s award was won by Mr Beattie from Belleek Controlled Primary School.
Any primary schoolchildren who think their teacher deserves the Green Teacher of the Year title should send their entry, which should consist of no more than 100 words, to ‘Belfast Harbour Green Teacher of the Year 2014’, Action Renewables, Boucher Business Studios, Block C, Unit 1, Glenmachan Place, Belfast, BT12 0PL or email email@example.com by Friday 17th October to ensure their teacher doesn’t miss out.