by Jan Mees, Bill Mees, and Joanna Reuter

The Eco Schoolhouse Horseshoe Award uses an artifact from the past to honor those whose actions aim to produce a better future through environmental education. The award is named for a horseshoe found during the construction of the Eco Schoolhouse, a LEED Gold building that was built with community support in 2008 after fire destroyed a mobile classroom at Grant Elementary. The horseshoe dates back to times when children rode horses to Grant School, the oldest existing school in Columbia. This horseshoe was then bronzed and turned into the Eco Schoolhouse Horseshoe Award to symbolize the over 100-year-old tradition of Grant School as we look forward to the next century of learning and conservation. Every year the award is given to a recipient who has supported environmental education to keep and display until the next school year.

PHOTO: John Nies, Bill Mees, and  Matt Kuensting. John Nies was a CAS Hog Island scholarship recipient.

This year, Bill Mees and the Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) were honored with the award. A former CAS President, Bill currently serves as Vice President, organizes Band With Nature, and has put a huge amount of hands-on effort into ecosystem restoration at the Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary. The presentation ceremony cited CAS-sponsored activities including: supporting educators to attend Hog Island Audubon Camp, need-based stipends for students attending the Tetons Summer Science program, need-based stipends for students attending the Smoky Mountain Science program, the prairie reconstruction at Columbia Audubon Nature Sanctuary, and the CAS effort to support the place-based curriculum at Fairview Elementary School, as well as field trips open to the public. John Nies, who presented the award, was himself the recipient of a Hog Island scholarship.

A small plaque is affixed to the award, bearing the recipient’s name and the date the award is given. Past recipients have included Smithton Middle School Eco Club, Sustain Mizzou, MDC conservation worker Betsy Blake, UMC professor Dr. Candace Galen, the US Fish and Wildlife Dept., the Raptor Rehabilitation Program, and MDC conservation worker Amy Meier, and last year it was displayed in City Hall for community conservationist Danielle Fox. Congratulations to Bill Mees and to all Columbia Audubon Society members!