Maine’s Environmental Living and Learning for Maine Students (ELLMS) collaborative was honored in Boston on April 22 with an EPA 2015 Environmental Merit Award. The Environmental Merit Awards recognize individuals, organizations, businesses and government agencies for their environmental stewardship, activism, support and dedication to environmental progress in New England. In his remarks congratulating the winners, Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA New England explained, “We live in a time where our environmental challenges are paramount. We have an obligation to leave our kids with a safe, healthy environment to live in. That means we must come together, be creative and implement sustainable, cost effective environmental solutions.” The ELLMS Project is a partnership among five residential environmental learning centers in Maine: Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, The Ecology School in Saco, Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park in Winter Harbor, University of Maine 4-H Center at Bryant Pond, and University of Maine 4-H Center at Tanglewood in Lincolnville. The partners launched the collaborative in 2010 to engage Maine students in dynamic 3-5 day residential programs that build classroom community, make environmental science come alive, and nurture health, resilience and leadership in students. The ELLMS partners have been working together to ensure that ultimately all Maine public school students have at least one outdoor residential learning experience and that the experience is accessible to students from all regions of the state. Through the ELLMS financial aid fund, public upper-elementary and middle schools can apply for scholarship funds to help send their students to any of the five organizations. “Receiving this award is an honor for all of us in the project,” said Chewonki President Willard Morgan on receipt of the award. “We have worked together diligently over the past five years to bring nature-based education to students across Maine, highlighting the strengths and benefits of each of our programs. We hope to continue to grow and continue to offer residential experiences to more and more students in Maine.” ELLMS has received generous support of the Elmina B. Sewall Foundation, Jane’s Trust, the Sam L. Cohen Foundation, the Quimby Family Foundation, the TD Charitable Foundation and the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation. The collective commitment of these foundations has made it possible for 9,342 students, many of whom are under-advantaged, from 91 schools in Maine to learn about the natural world through direct encounters and great teaching. This year alone, the project is reaching more than 1,500 students. ELLMS continues to seek funding toward sustained partnerships with the public schools around us to strengthen education. For more information on ELLMS and any of the partnering organizations, go to ellms.org.