Tag Archives: awards

Champions of the Environment: Solar Power Shines at Leaphart Elementary School

by
Ms. Heather Reitenga
Leaphart Elementary School

 

This is the fourth of a series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

Our students are very excited about our solar panel project for our school greenhouse.  They are having the opportunity to learn about renewable energy options that are very attainable for us right now.  They are learning about the kind of energy that the sun provides, how this energy can be used as a renewable resource, about energy flow and how energy affects us. One thing that has helped us out is to feel good about starting out small. Our first project is using the solar power for the irrigation in the greenhouse. This isn’t a critical need and requires a small amount of energy. This low stakes approach has made us more comfortable about experimenting and learning. Because this is not high stakes energy consumption, we can have students be the designers and engineers of the systems.  Although we are starting out smaller, our panels and inverter have the ability for higher output. This project will definitely have impacts on our school for years to come because we were able to purchase a high capacity system. We will be able to continue to add to this system until we are giving out students a clear picture of the maximum capacity of these panels.

Our advice for teachers and classes that want to start their own environmental education project is to team up with experts!  We really had no one in our school that knew very much about solar energy.  We learned from Grape Solar about what type of system we needed, and then we got some great on-site information from Patrick Smallwood, one of our district’s Clean Energy Technology Instructors.  Having Patrick come out has led to a great partnership, and Patrick’s students are excited about coming out to our school for Earth Day to help us learn even more about solar energy! Environmental education is so very important for our future. We need to show our students that science, clean energy, and a clean environment are important, fun, and can impact our lives in a very positive way.

Champions of the Environment: Dent Middle School Mitigates Stormwater Runoff

by
Dr. Rachel Tustin
Dent Middle School

This is the first of series of blog posts recognizing winners of the 2016 Champions of the Environment awards.

Environmental education has been an important part of my life since I was a small child. I grew up in the Midwest, and my grandfather was a chemical engineer at a refinery. When he started out in his career, there weren’t a lot of regulations to protect the environment from what they were doing. He was a pioneer in fighting for protecting the environment in the oil industry. I spent a lot of time with him growing up working on various environmental projects, such as building gardens on vacant lots in our community. He said protecting the earth was a way to show your respect to whichever creator you believe in, and that is something I have carried with me for many years.

The October 2015 flood was the inspiration for our rain garden project. We have an enormous number of storm drains on our campus, that all drain into Carys Lake. At the end of last year, my students had to propose solutions to the issues they saw from our lake studies. Creating a rain garden was one of their ideas to mitigate our campus run off. I think one of the key lessons my students are learning from this project is that protecting our lake environment is an important part of their campus and community legacy. As responsible citizens, it’s not enough to just understand the lake ecosystem. They need to use that information to improve the situation for our community.

I think my favorite part of the project is getting students to apply science in a hands-on way. In designing their rain gardens, it hasn’t just been about research and coming up with a plan. Rather, it has been about applying science and engineering skills to solve a problem they identified in the community. A lot of students are taking huge pride in the fact that their design will be on our campus long after they have graduated and moved on. They are embracing it as their legacy to Dent.

The most challenging part of any project is funding and execution. We have been fortunate that the community embraced our project and we have been extremely well funded. For any teachers who are considering an environment project in their classroom, you always want to identify some funding sources. It can be granted, but it may also be donations or fundraisers. If your students are passionate about the idea, and it is worthwhile to your community, people will help you find the resources to make it happen.

 

DHEC Now Accepting Nominations for “Spare the Air” Awards

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Air Quality is accepting nominations for its 2017 “Spare the Air” Awards.  Any project that can demonstrate reductions in air pollution in any part of the State during 2016 is eligible.

The “Spare the Air” Awards are presented to environmental stewards that have made a voluntary commitment to promote and practice initiatives that improve air quality in South Carolina.

“Through partnerships and collaborative efforts of individuals, organizations and local governments, excellent work is being done voluntarily to reduce air pollution and conserve energy in South Carolina,” said Rhonda Thompson, chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality. “Air quality has gained a great deal of attention in recent years and people are recognizing the importance of protecting and improving our air quality.”

Thompson said the awards show appreciation to those who go the extra mile to help protect our environment.

The goals of the awards program are to

  • Promote a healthier environment through air quality initiatives that are sustainable and replicable;
  • Educate, build awareness and motivate others to make better decisions about the environment through air quality improvements;
  • Encourage positive behavioral changes that improve air quality;
  • Strengthen and build partnerships with businesses, organizations and the citizens of South Carolina to improve air quality.

Award categories include:

  • Outstanding Business/Industry
  • Outstanding Employee(s)
  • Outstanding Local Government
  • Outstanding School or District
  • Outstanding College or University
  • Outstanding Community Campaign

Guidelines:

Nominations must be received by February 1, 2017 for 2016 projects. For more information, the award nomination application, and past winners, go to: www.scdhec.gov/sparetheairawards.

Health Regulation Team Honored for Outstanding Effort in Patient Safety Work

By Jim Beasley
photo above: Shelly B. Kelly, Yolanda Holloman, Tamara Grant, Barbara Brague and MaryJo Rooue

Sometimes, regulating leads to the need for swift action.

Emergency actions taken by DHEC Health Regulations staff following an unannounced complaint investigation at an ambulatory surgery center have earned recognition from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Their efforts also exemplified the agency’s core value of promoting teamwork.

It was April 2015 when registered nurses Tamara Grant and Yolanda Holloman from DHEC’s Bureau of Certification visited a site and found that the facility was placing its patients in “Immediate Jeopardy,” the formal term for a crisis situation in which the health and safety of individuals are at risk. Serious violations were found, including practices covering infection control and surgical services.

The team collaborated with the Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing and the Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology, finding several areas at the facility requiring an urgent plan of correction. Bureau of Health Facilities Licensing staff referred the center’s medical director for review by another state agency, while Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology staff conducted a contact investigation of patients and collaborated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for additional guidance.

CMS Award_2

Eva Johnson, Lorie Sanders, Tamara Grant, Sandra Johnson, Barbara Brague and Yolanda Holloman

Barbara Brague, a registered nurse with the Bureau of Certification, helped guide the inspectors in the field during a situation that proved a challenging experience for all. She interacted with the other DHEC bureaus and worked closely with the CMS regional office to determine whether the facility’s correction plan was acceptable.

DHEC surveyors conducted follow-up inspections in May and June 2015 to verify that corrections were made and to ensure the facility complied with federal regulations and conditions.

This shining example of cooperation and collaboration among bureaus demonstrates the importance of communication across the agency and with our partners.

Congratulations to all staff involved in this extraordinary effort for helping to protect the health and safety of patients. The award is well-deserved.

McBride Wins S.C. Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition Award

By Jim Beasley

Congratulations to Catherine (Kate) McBride, RN, MSN, on her selection for the prestigious S.C. Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition award. She was one of 100 nurses recognized last month at the 15th Palmetto Gold Nurse Recognition and Scholarship Program.

“I am honored to be in the same company as the 114 DHEC public health nurses who were recognized before me with the Palmetto Gold award since this award’s inception 15 years ago,” said McBride. “I enjoy public health nursing because we not only impact the individual patient, but we also seek to positively impact the health of the community as well as the overall healthcare system.”

The South Carolina Nurses Foundation sponsors Palmetto Gold to recognize Registered Nurses in all practice settings in South Carolina who exemplify excellence in nursing practice and commitment to the nursing profession.

McBride, who currently serves as program director for the Pee Dee Public Health Region, began her work as a public health nurse in 2007. During her tenure as program director, nurses within the region have gained independence and increased accountability for individual clinical practice. The Nurse Family Partnership and the Children with Special Healthcare Needs programs have been recognized internally and externally for achieving high service standards.

McBride’s leadership has moved the region forward in quality nursing practice and client-centered customer service.

“I also recognize that this award for me is as much a reflection of the front line nurses working in the Pee Dee Public Health Region,” McBride added. “It is the work they do each day in our clinics and out in the community that truly shines.”