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Westport's Michael Aitkenhead Wins Environmental Champion Award

Staples High School teacher Michael Aitkenhead receives his Aquarion Environmental Champion award from state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty Saturday.
Staples High School teacher Michael Aitkenhead receives his Aquarion Environmental Champion award from state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty Saturday. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. — Staples High School teacher Michael Aitkenhead, farm steward and program director of Westport’s Wakeman Town Farm , received an Aquarion Environmental Champion award for his environmental activism.

Aitkenhead, who teaches Advanced Placement environmental science and is the faculty adviser of Club Green at Staples, will receive a $2,500 grant for an environmental nonprofit of his choice.

“I am planning on donating the grant to the Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainability Center,” Aitkenhead said Monday.

Now in its third year, the Aquarion Water Co. Environmental Champion awards program recognizes volunteer projects that have significantly contributed to the improvement of environmental quality through the protection, conservation, restoration and stewardship of the state’s water, air, soils, and plant and wildlife habitats, according to a statement from the company.

Award nominations were accepted in five categories: large business, small business, nonprofit, adult and youth.

Aitkenhead was nominated for the various work he does to promote sustainability, both inside the classroom, at the farm and around town.

“He was one of the first teachers in Fairfield County to implement a classroom program highlighting the importance of watershed management and good water quality in Connecticut's rivers,” Aquarion said. “As adviser to [Club Green], he has guided initiatives promoting recycling programs and other conservation opportunities.

“Michael also led students in organizing community events related to sustainable living. These included Ecofest, which attracted thousands of visitors, and Greenday, which highlighted environmental activities throughout Westport.”

Aquarion also hailed Aitkenhead for his work with the town’s Green Task Force, in which he is trying to acquire a large solar array for the school district, and for the various programs and workshops he’s instituted at the farm.

The awards were announced Saturday at a ceremony held at Beardsley Zoo. Award presenters included U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel Esty.

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