Young Environmentalist of the Year

The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control honors young Delawareans each year who have put their passions into projects that benefit our environment. Young Environmentalist of the Year Award winners are honored in a special ceremony at the Delaware State Fair.

Official Rules

Caroline Nacchia

2019 Honoree Caroline Nacchia

The Delaware Young Environmentalist of the Year Award was established in 1993 by DNREC staff and interested members of the public.

The award program is open to Delaware students in grades 1 through 12 whose actions have resulted in the protection, restoration or enhancement of our state’s natural resources. Projects must have been completed between July 1 and June 30 for awards the following July.

Teachers, parents, classmates, club or group leaders submit nomination forms and include letters, reports, photos or other documentation of the project. Winners are chosen in three categories: elementary grades 1 through 4, middle school grades 5 through 8, and high school grades 9 through 12.

Nominations for the 2022 awards are now closed.

For more information, contact Young Environmentalist Awards Coordinator Joanna Wilson, in the DNREC Public Affairs Office, at 302-739-9902.

The 2021 Young Environmentalists of the Year

In July 2021, Governor John Carney and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin honored three dedicated Delaware students as DNREC’s Young Environmentalists of the Year.

Rowan Smith, age 9, of Dover, independently formed a plant club in her third grade class at Banneker Elementary and uses her recess time to lead nature walks and plant investigations, sharing plant facts she has learned from avidly reading and researching Delaware plants.

DNREC’s 2021 Young Environmentalists, Maggie Wieber, Julia Rial and Rowan Smith pose with their certificates.

Maggie Wieber, age 11, is very active as a member of Kent County’s Peach Blossom 4-H Club, taking on projects involving wildlife, woodworking and community service. Upon learning of a need for bat boxes at Killens Pond and Trap Pond state parks, Maggie researched plans, solicited funds from the Delaware 4-H Foundation to buy materials, developed kits with pre-cut parts and enlisted eight fellow 4-H members to construct 10 boxes, which were donated to the two parks to provide nesting areas for these important insect-eaters.

Julia Rial, age 18, of Lewes, has planned beach cleanups in Sussex County, organized tree plantings and made videos at James Farm in Ocean View and founded the Delaware Youth Chapter of Extinction Rebellion with her friend Jade Carter to work in her community on environmental issues and sustainability. In February 2021, for the Shepard’s Office in Georgetown, an organization that helps homeless and needy people, Julia and Jade gathered a dozen volunteers and organized a “sustainable free market” that collected five truckloads of usable goods, keeping the items out of landfills; the event also included hot lunches for 100 needy people donated by local businesses.




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