A 2011 graduate of UCM and former Knob Noster resident, Morgan Skaith, was one of four teachers nationwide to receive the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) in Washington D.C.

Mrs. Skaith, 29, currently teaches 3rd grade at Carden Park Elementary in the St. Joseph, MO school district. She has been with the district since 2011. The grant award was presented September 21 in the nation’s capital.

According to the EPA’s website, The White House Council on Environmental Quality, in partnership with the EPA administers the annual award to honor, support and encourage educators who incorporate environmental education in their classrooms & teaching methods.

The PIAEE recognizes outstanding kindergarten through 12th grade teachers who “employ innovative approaches to environmental education and use the environment as a context for learning for their students.”

The EPA consists of ten regions throughout the country with Mrs. Skaith selected as the recipient from Region 7.

Skaith said the grant itself is broken into two parts, with up to $2,500 going back into the St. Joseph School District. The money will benefit district students for resources with upcoming projects that are tied to the environment and environmental education.

Based on information from Skaith’s grant application project, her students are participating in the redesign of the Riverfront Park in St. Joseph, which is undergoing a revitalization effort. Students met with the City Planner and the Historic Preservation Planner to learn about city planning, development, and zoning, and have also met with a landscape architect to discuss the design process. Students are learning about enhancements that could benefit the park, such as adding a historic monument, promoting natural features that support the local ecosystem, along with building a play area and a pedestrian path. She hopes the project will come to fruition in the near future.

The second part of the grant includes $2,500 for professional development that will be used by Mrs. Skaith and her team to assist in becoming better science educators and seek out professional opportunities.

The grant is awarded based on the applicant’s record of teaching, which is judged on criteria such as Innovation, Achievement, Service to the Community & Underserved Populations, Leadership, Integration, Sample Teaching Materials and Letters of Support.

In addition to being one of four teachers nationwide, Skaith was the only teacher in Missouri to be presented the award.

Morgan is the daughter of David and Valerie Anderson, of Knob Noster. She currently resides in Savanah, Mo (approx. 12 miles north of St. Joseph) with her husband, Aaron, and their two children. Morgan is also the sister-in-law of KSIS's Ryan Skaith.

For more information about the grant, visit the EPA website.

Valerie Anderson, Aaron Skaith