2016 Becker Award Winners

Is environmental education for the birds? Ask this year’s Becker Award honorees and you’ll hear a confident yes! It’s for the birds and the water, soil, forests, people…

The Dr. Richard W. Becker Award honors outstanding educators in New Mexico who are influencing students through environmental education and service learning. Our 2016 honorees are Steve Glass, CNM biology instructor and retired public works program manager, and Siobhan Niklasson, Education Programs Director at Pajarito Environmental Education Center (PEEC). Continue Reading →

2015 Becker Award Winners

From a South Valley farm to a southern NM trail race, our 2015 award winners have taken environmental education and run with it!

Garcia and Haan-AmatoThe Dr. Richard W. Becker Award honors New Mexico’s outstanding educators who are influencing students through environmental education and service learning. For 2015, we recognize two amazing individuals: Joe Garcia, Farm Education Director at La Plazita Institute, and Stephanie Haan-Amato, Science Education Specialist at the Asombro Institute for Science Education in Las Cruces.

Joe Garcia

Crops at Sanchez Farm

A garden bed at Sanchez Farm. Photo courtesy of Bernalillo County.

Joe Garcia is the Farm Education Director at La Plazita Institute in Albuquerque’s South Valley. He has worked with the County Parks and Recreation office in California, La Plazita Institute as the Garden Manager and Educator, at UNM teaching classes, and working on numerous boards and committees.

During his time as Farm Education Director for La Plazita at Sanchez Farm Open Space, Joe worked with groups from Peanut Butter and Jelly preschoolers to college students to professionals at the Farm.  He has engaged numerous groups in service learning projects that include habitat restoration and garden-related activities, emphasizing the importance of service learning projects in the context of our larger environment and local community. He inspires people to deeply reflect on the incredible planet we live on, and see the magic all around us. Currently, he is working with college students as he facilitates the Garden Wisdom Program for transformative learning.

Joe has continued his own graduate education, now pursuing a Doctorate in Transformative Learning and Holistic Education. He keeps up-to-date on environmental literacy and philosophies of education that result in civic action and personal growth. Joe has partnered with EEANM through several projects, bringing a depth of experience and perspective.

Joe has been described as “the consummate conservation education professional who is passionate, hard-working and knowledgeable in natural history, environmental education and natural resource interpretation. Moreover, Mr. Garcia has a keen ability to relate to varied stakeholders and engage nontraditional audiences all the while being an effective environmental educator.”

Stephanie Haan-Amato


Runners enjoying the Chihuahuan Desert during the Desert Dash. Photo courtesy of Asombro Institute.

Stephanie Haan-Amato is the Science Education Specialist at the Asombro Institute for Science Education in Las Cruces. She previously worked as a biologist and a high school biology teacher. Stephanie’s focus has been on three programs that highlight her talent for engaging participants in environmental education through stewardship and collaboration: (1) Earth Squad citizen action program, (2) Climate Hub curriculum development, and (3) Desert Dash Trail Races.

Stephanie created the Earth Squad citizen action program in spring 2013 to give youth a sense of power and personal investment when they implement solutions to environmental issues. Students worked with Stephanie over 11 weeks, learning about greenhouse gases and how to find reliable, online scientific resources about climate change. Equipped with this new knowledge of climate change science, students brainstormed potential actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and then formed 3 committees to implement their plans: (a) a school recycling plan involving students, staff, and parents, (b) a campaign and contest to reduce energy used at school by turning off unused lights and appliances, (c) a “no- idling zone” in the parent pick-up area to reduce carbon emissions from idling cars.

USDA’s Southwest Regional Climate Hub delivers climate-smart information and technologies for agriculture and land management. Stephanie is developing five, inquiry-based education modules for middle and high school students who will become the next farmers, ranchers, land managers, and informed citizens. Stephanie developed the first module on the impact of global climate change on the water cycle in the southwest U.S. The unit includes nine hands-on activities to help students understand causes and consequences of predicted climate change on the Southwest’s water cycle through innovative experiments, games, critical readings, and data interpretation and presentation.                          

The Desert Dash Trail Races are now an annual event at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park. The event brings people out to enjoy getting active and supporting Asombro’s programming.


Dr. Buxbaum’s EE Work Honored with 2014 Becker Award

Chuck with students

Chuck’s enthusiasm for teaching is evident in the classroom, the gym and beyond!

EEANM is thrilled to announce that Dr. Chuck Buxbaum, Environmental Science Teacher and Sustainability Director at Sandia Prep, has been selected to receive EEANM’s 2014 Dr. Richard W. Becker Award of Excellence in Environmental Education! Continue Reading →

Langan-McRoberts Awarded 2013 Becker Award

Colleen, Molly and Barbara at recognition ceremony

Colleen (center) receives Becker Award from Molly Madden (left) and Barbara Garrity (right).

EEANM presented the 2013 Dr. Richard W. Becker Award for Excellence in Environmental Education to Colleen Langan-McRoberts, Open Space Coordinator for Bernalillo County. Continue Reading →

Christina Selby Recognized with 2012 Becker Award

Christina Selby, Photo courtesy of EarthCare

Christina Selby, photo courtesy of EarthCare

Christina Selby, Co-Founder and Education Director of Earth Care and a distinguished member of the environmental education community, was awarded the second annual Dr. Richard W. Becker Award of Excellence in Environmental Education.  Dr. Becker was a champion of conservation, environmental education and service learning across the state of New Mexico.

“This award recognizes an outstanding individual that has influenced students and colleagues in New Mexico through environmental education and service learning.  This honor celebrates Christina’s accomplishments and reflects the qualities Dr. Becker both exhibited and held in high regard,” stated a member of the nomination review committee.

For over a decade, Ms. Selby and Earth Care have served over 8,000 youth through environmental education programs focusing on positive youth development, cross-cultural leadership, and environmental stewardship.  As Dr. Becker did in his lifetime, Ms. Selby has positively impacted her community and students through collaborative partnerships and service-learning programs including a Sustainable Education Teacher Institute, the Sustainable Food and Gardening Program and more.

Ms. Selby received a cash award and an engraved turkey call, a special tribute to Dr. Becker.  She was honored at EEANM’s annual conference in Albuquerque in October 2012.

EE Connections Summer 2011

Donald Becker (Richard’s Brother), Eileen Wood, Dana Vackar Strang, and Tish Morris at the award ceremony. Photo by Cheryl Riley.

Donald Becker (Richard’s Brother), Eileen Wood, Dana Vackar Strang, and Tish Morris at the award ceremony. Photo by Cheryl Riley.

Download EE Connections for Summer 2011 [PDF].

What’s inside?

  • Dr. Richard W. Becker Awards of Excellence in Environmental Education Honor Tish Morris and Eileen Wood
  • Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights: Wild Friends Comes on Board for 2012
  • The National Leopold Education Conference Comes to Albuquerque
  • Rio Grande Nature Center Education Building Opens its Doors
  • 2011 American Tree Farm Convention