Local nonprofit recognizes Stetson student with education award
Nicholas Lewis, a 3L in the Environmental Law Concentration, won the 2020 Environmental Education Program Award from Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful for a K-12 lesson plan he developed for the organization’s Environmental Education Center.
Keeping Tampa Bay Beautiful (KTBB) is an organization that promotes environmental stewardship through volunteer and educational opportunities, including litter cleanups, invasive plant removal, and more. The Environmental Education Center is located on the Hillsborough River with sections for composting, beekeeping, and other interactive learning opportunities. Though they had the physical resources in place, they lacked a full curriculum on environmental topics. That’s where Lewis came in.
“I absolutely love being outdoors and learning outdoors,” he said, adding that his goal was to encourage kids to get outside and learn about all of Florida’s flora and fauna and how they work together.
“We’re part of something bigger. We’re part of an ecology.”
Lewis took the Environmental Advocacy class at Stetson during his 2L year, and his lesson plan evolved from the class coursework and requirements.
“The Environmental Advocacy class provides an opportunity for students to devise and implement a project that they are passionate about and believe will effectively help the environment,” said Professor Lance Long. “Nicholas’s project was important because it focused on educating our youth about the importance of recognizing our limited resources and taking action to care for the environment.”
Lewis served as a Boy Scout and Eagle Scout growing up, so he drew upon his experience with their educational programs to develop a progressive age plan for topics such as sustainability, environmental stewardship, and natural resources. He broke those down into vocabulary lessons and classroom activities. For example, elementary students might make rock buddies when learning about geology or build wind-powered cars with Legos. Lessons for older students broached more complex subjects, including land use and sustainability regulations, environmental statutes, urban planning, and green economy.
“These lesson plans have become a valuable addition to our curriculum,” noted KTBB organizers.
“We are truly grateful to our partners, sponsors, and volunteers for their extraordinary dedication to help Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful,” said Debra Evenson, executive director for Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful. “We are proud to honor Nicholas Lewis for being an exemplary steward of the environment and help make a difference in our community.”
Lewis, who has a BA in political science with focus on national resources, sustainability and land use, said he has always been interested in environmental topics. He serves as the treasurer of Stetson’s Environmental Law Society and has spent most of his school breaks working with the planning department in his hometown of Winter Park, Fla. He hopes to continue that after graduation.
“My heart’s always been in planning,” he said.
His goals are to advocate for more feasible and sustainable development in light of Florida’s population growth, bearing in mind the need to address sea level rise and other environmental challenges.
Post date: Dec. 18, 2020