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Environmental Justice Efforts Earn Top Award from Sierra Club

7 November 2017

The Environmental Justice Program at Merritt was honored with an “Emerging Voices Youth Award” by the Sierra Club on October 7 at its San Francisco Chapter David Brower Dinner. The gala, themed “RESIST!, was a message of solidarity against attacks on our environmental progress by the current administration.
The recipients of the total of five awards given out have all been playing important roles in support of this effort. Accepting the award for the college was Merritt President Marie-Elaine Burns who attended the gala along with a healthy Merritt contingent, including faculty members Gisele Giorgi, Cliff Cockerham, Theresa Halula, and Angela Lane; students Christine Watson and Feather Ives; alumni Angela Lane and Saul Gamboa, and Charles Neal, Director of Energy and Environmental Sustainability at the Peralta District.


The Environmental Justice group also was honored with a certificate they received at the dinner from Senator Nancy Skinner for “inspiring students and young people to make a difference in their communities.”

During the gala, Instructor Cliff Cockerham spoke of the importance of encouraging youth from all backgrounds to study science. “We are very appreciative of being recognized for our hard work and dedication to this important cause that will affect our future,” he said. “I would urge all to engage young adults in science, especially assuring that those from disadvantaged economic backgrounds and people of color are included in the decision- making as we address climate change strategies.”


Instructor and alumna Theresa Halula asks all students to consider stepping up in support of environmental justice and environmental protection. “Our coursework in environmental topics, natural history, and sustainable landscapes is awesome,” she says. “Come study with us.” For more information about the courses, contact her at

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