SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – Nine organizations and individuals in Massachusetts were honored today at the 2013 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony of the US Environmental Protection Agency. They were among 28 recipients across New England recognized for their significant contributions to environmental awareness and problem-solving. Among them, was Shrewsbury resident Peter Hinrichs.
The merit awards allow EPA to recognize individuals and groups whose work has protected or improved the region’s environment in distinct ways. Given out by EPA annually since 1970, the merit awards honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
“The people, communities and businesses being recognized today are leaders in helping create a cleaner environment and healthier communities across New England,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA New England.
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. The Environmental Merit Award Winners from Massachusetts listed here by category are:
Peter Hinrichs, formerly with YouthBuild Boston, Roxbury, currently runs a horticultural program at the Learning Prep School in Newton Massachusetts. During the time he worked at YouthBuild Boston, he was a key figure in EPA New England’s efforts to promote rain gardens and reduce stormwater pollution. Hinrichs has worked with the agency over the past year to train youth and neighborhood groups to install rain gardens in Boston and around New England. Hinrichs collaborated with EPA New England as well as the Boston Greenway Conservancy and recently began working with staff from Springfield to plan a rain garden training for that community, working with high school teachers and students.
Hinrichs also led students from YouthBuild’s Boston and Lowell programs to put in more than 300 plants for a rain garden along the driveway of EPA’s New England Regional Laboratory in North Chelmsford last fall. This was part of EPA’s Soak Up the Rain Challenge to reduce stormwater impacts in New England. Hinrichs also developed the design and supervised installation of a rain garden at Dewey Square in Boston as part of an Earth Day event. Over the past 20 years, Peter Hinrichs has used education as the cornerstone of his career in landscape design and horticulture. He has used this approach in his work in public horticulture, landscape construction and more recently workforce development to work with people of all backgrounds and ages to educate them about the importance of the environment as it relates to everyday life. Through his work, Hinrichs hopes to use cutting edge and practical learning tools in horticulture, design and the environment to foster the future stewards of the environment.