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Monday, July 11, 2011

Joan Chadde wins 2011 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award

HANCOCK -- If you or your kids have recently attended a family science night, pulled an old tire out of a river as part of an "Adopt-a-Stream" program, watched a "green film," or otherwise gotten involved in some hands-on environmental project, chances are the activity was part of the hard work of this year’s recipient of the Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award, Joan Chadde.

During the July 4th celebration at Churning Rapids, Terry Kinzel, right, prepares to present the 2011 Heart and Hands Award to Joan Chadde, left foreground, education program coordinator for the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach and for the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education at Michigan Tech. Just behind Chadde is Suzanne Van Dam, Heart and Hands Board member, who announced the award. (Photos by Keweenaw Now)

Chadde has been the education program coordinator for the Center for Science and Environmental Outreach at Michigan Tech since 1995 and for the Western UP Center for Science, Math and Environmental Education since 2000. She received the award for "going above and beyond her work expectations, tirelessly working to promote environmental education and stewardship in the Keweenaw community." The award selection committee was particularly struck by Chadde’s capacity to affect the future both by working with young people directly and by training the teachers who interact with them.

As one teacher put it, "There would not be any consistent environmental education for students or professional training for teachers to help integrate environmental education into the curriculum if it weren’t for the programs that Joan creates, seeks funding for, and implements."

Chadde was quick to attribute her success to others, saying, "There are very few things that one does alone. All of these activities require collaborators, partners, many assistants behind the scenes, and those who help to pave the way. I feel very humble and appreciative of all of these people over the years. The award means a lot to me, but it also makes me feel undeserving, as there are so many people who do so much for our community in so many ways, some that are not fully visible for us all to see."

In addition to Chadde's designing and implementing numerous K-12 science programs and over sixty teacher professional development workshops and summer institutes, these are a few of her many accomplishments:
  • Compiling the Walking Paths and Protected Areas of the Keweenaw publication (2009) which took three and a half years to develop and describes 22 sanctuaries and preserves.
  • Co-leading (with Shawn Oppliger and Lloyd Wescoat) the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) which connects schools and communities in the stewardship of Lake Superior.
Joan Chadde, Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative (LSSI) co-stewardship project advisor and community organization coordinator, is pictured here with the LSSI photo display at the Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition's "Celebrate the UP" event in Hancock March 19, 2011. Chadde has selected LSSI to be the recipient of her $1000 award.
  • Engaging the community in exploring environmental sustainability in a very successful Green Film Festival.
  • Annually conducting family science and forest nights in 20 schools in a 5-county area of the U.P.
Founded in 1998, The Heart and Hands Society gives the award annually to acknowledge Copper Country residents who have "given of their heart and hands in the service of peace, justice, or the environment." The winner of the award is honored at the 4th of July celebration at Churning Rapids (Hancock), and receives a monetary award of $1,000 which is to be donated to the local charity of his/her choice. Chadde selected the Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative, as it involves both of her passions -- stewardship of an important ecosystem and environmental education for youth.

Also nominated this year were Dave Harmon and Lynnette Borree. Harmon has contributed significantly to many organizations, such as FOLK (Friends of the Land of Keweenaw), UPEC (Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition), and Suzuki. Described as a quiet "family man," Harmon has done everything from writing a grant for the waste-oil collection site located at Houghton’s transfer station in the 80s, to building a passive solar home, to forming a recreation committee to work with the Stanton Township Board.

Joan Chadde accepts the 2011 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award from Terry Kinzel. Dave Harmon, right, was also nominated for the award. Not pictured is Lynnette Borree, the third nominee for this year's award.

Lynnette Borree was nominated for her important work in starting a non-profit organization called Simple Kindness for Youth (SKY). She continues to lead the group, whose mission is "to help young people build and maintain their self-esteem by providing means to access basic needs, enable them to feel accepted with their peers, and enable access to educational activities and community participation." Borree’s work was acknowledged as "behind the scenes but crucial, helping teachers and human service staff meet the very real needs of kids in our community."

To obtain more information or to nominate a deserving person for next year’s Heart and Hands Award, contact Terry Kinzel at

Editor's Note: Learn more about the Heart and Hands Award by checking out the Heart and Hands Society Web site.

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