New Pioneers for a Sustainable Future (NPFSF) has been named Kentucky’s Outstanding Community Partner for Excellence in Environmental Education. The award, given by the Kentucky Association for Environmental Education, recognizes individuals, schools, and businesses that exemplify dedication, commitment, and influence in the field of environmental education (EE).
NPFSF is a community nonprofit organization with a mission to “promote sustainability in rural communities through education, demonstration, and advocacy.” Founded in 2005, NPFSF serves as a hub for EE in the area and engages communities alongside local and regional partners.
NPFSF has deep roots in Springfield, Ky., regularly partnering with local government, tourism, Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary Club. This year, NPFSF hosted the Springfield Green Festival, organizing more than 24 partners to provide education about recycling; soil, water, and air protection; and green homes and farms. Previously a fundraiser, this event was reimagined to provide education to the community, reaching nearly 450 people.
Regionally, NPFSF maintains partnerships with county Cooperative Extension Offices – co-leading a pilot “Stream Team” in Nelson County – and local landowners including the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, Loretto, and St. Catherine. NPFSF leads on-site programming with these Congregations (from bio-blitzes to field trips) and has offered them professional support and greater education to manage their land more sustainably.
Finally, NPFSF has expertly leveraged state resources to enhance programming, support greater environmental literacy, and empower rising voices in EE. NPFSF has taken a lead in EE in Central Kentucky through the Lt. Governor’s Summer Enrichment Program for two years – developing curriculums and field trips that serve as roadmaps beyond the summer(s). NPFSF has also hosted successful EELCorps volunteers for two years, providing hands-on experience and education to young people interested in EE.
“Whitney Wurzel’s leadership, along with the Board’s and staff’s dedication, continue to bring NPFSF into the rooms and spaces that matter,” said Julia Gerwe, who worked closely with NPFSF during her time as Ecological Sustainability Education Programs Manager at Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. “NPFSF is embedded in the local community and works diligently to honor these relationships and partnerships through everything they do. Having a community partner makes all the difference BUT having a community partner like NPFSF is truly life changing. The professional support, encouragement, and collaborative opportunities that NPFSF offers bring innumerable benefits to all their partners.”