The Columbia Basin Trust recently received national recognition for its commitment to environmental education, in the form of the 2014 Award for Excellence in Environmental Education and Communication.

“We were both surprised and humbled by this recognition,” said Columbia Basin Trust (CBT) president and chief executive officer Neil Muth in a press release.

The  award was given by the Canadian Network for Environmental Educations and Communciation, and the CBT was nominated for it by the local Columbia Basin Environmental Education Network (CBEEN).

“We really feel we are accepting this award on behalf of the volunteer groups who do environmental education work on the ground, and we hope it echoes down and reflects back on them,” CBT communications director Delphi Hoodicoff told The Valley Echo. “There’s a lot of (environmental education) groups in the Upper Columbia Valley and they do great work.”

“CBEEN nominated the Trust for this national award to recognize its long-term commitment to environmental education,” said CBEEN executive director Duncan Whittick in the press release.“Since its inception, the trust has provided critical capacity for key environmental education and stewardship projects. As a result, we wanted to recognize the trust for its important role in allowing a small area of Canada to become a national model for success. We also wanted to recognize the trust’s strong vision for environmental education which is showcased in their new Environmental Strategic Plan. This will allow for the continued development of high-quality learning opportunities for residents of the (Columbia river) basin.”

Mr. Whittick told The Valley Echo that the announcement of the award has brought a bit of national recognition to the environmental education programs the CBT supports, including some of CBEEN’s.

“It’s great to get that kind of exposure for the programs we have here in the valley, although of course the CBT’s support of environmental education extends well beyond CBEEN,” he said, adding environmental educational is important since it is a long-term investment in the well-being of individuals, communities and ecosystems.

The CBT provides funding for dozens of environmental programs run in the Upper Columbia Valley, including CBEEN’s Wild Voices for Kids, local environmental group Wildsight’s Education in the Wild and Know Your Watershed programs, the B.C. Conservation Foundation’s Wildsafe B.C. program, Groundswell, the Kootenay Community Bat Project, CBEEN’s Voices for Sustainability Symposium and the Environmental Education Leadership Clinic that CBEEN co-hosts at Nipika Mountain Resort.

CBEEN recently got the go-ahead to host a national level environmental education conference here in the East Kootenay, which according to Mr. Whittick is a real feather in the organization’s cap, since such conferences are typically held in Ottawa or Victoria.