Green Mountain Power honors EarthWalk Vermont Founder
PLAINFIELD, Vt. – Angella Gibbons, who founded EarthWalk Vermont and provided environmental mentorship to thousands of Vermont children and adults, has been named the winner of the 2021 GMP-Zetterstrom Environmental Award. A ceremony honoring Gibbons was held at Goddard College on Thursday, June 2, and brought together dozens of EarthWalk’s supporters and local community members.
The prestigious award is named for former Milton resident Meeri Zetterstrom, who inspired recovery efforts that led to the removal of the osprey from Vermont’s endangered species list. The award is given annually to one person, business, group or nonprofit that has made a significant contribution to Vermont’s environment.
The feather-shaped award is accompanied by a $2,500 donation to the winner’s environmental cause.
Gibbons has been an environmental educator and earth advocate for close to 35 years, and through her work and vision founded EarthWalk Vermont in Plainfield in 2005. EarthWalk’s mission is to inspire and empower children, families and communities to reconnect with and care for one another and the Earth through long-term nature mentoring. Nature mentoring is a holistic and dynamic education model in which nature is the primary teacher, and mentors guide and reconnect people to one another and the natural world.
“It is a great honor for me to have been chosen by Green Mountain Power to be the recipient of this year’s Zetterstrom Environmental Award,” Gibbons said. “I am filled with gratitude for the many elders, mentors and environmental leaders who have inspired, guided and supported me along this path. I have great hope for future generations of children connecting to nature, being passionate about learning and growing into powerful environmental stewards.”
“Angella demonstrates the same kind of passion and drive that Meeri exhibited,” said GMP Vice President Steve Costello, who worked on osprey recovery with Zetterstrom for years. “Angella’s long-term commitment to the environment, and helping Vermonters understand how they can positively affect it, mirror Meeri’s efforts to educate children not only about ospreys, but the bigger role we all play in the web of life.”
Through Gibbons’ leadership, EarthWalk Vermont created a series of programs focused on the nexus of people and the planet. They include EarthWalk Village School, after-school programs, summer camps, a field institute for teachers, workshops, and seasonal, multi-generational community days.
EarthWalk has been the catalyst and inspiration behind the launching of many new start-up nature education programs, organizations and public school initiatives throughout Vermont, New England and beyond.
Zetterstrom was known as “Grandma Osprey.” She began her efforts to restore ospreys at Milton’s Lake Arrowhead in the late 1980s. Her vision, collaboration and leadership prompted utilities, the state, and landowners to work together, ospreys rebounded, and they were removed from the endangered species list in 2005. The award was created shortly before Zetterstrom died in 2010.
Past GMP-Zetterstrom Award recipients include Sally Laughlin, a scientist whose work was instrumental in restoring three species of endangered birds in Vermont; Michael Smith, founder of Rutland’s Pine Hill Park; Margaret Fowle, who led Vermont’s peregrine falcon restoration program; the Lake Champlain Committee, which works to protect and improve Lake Champlain; Kelly Stettner, who founded the Black River Action Team in southern Vermont; Roy Pilcher, founder of the Rutland County Chapter of Audubon; Lake Champlain International, a nonprofit working to protect, restore and revitalize Lake Champlain and its communities; Marty Illick of the Lewis Creek Association; Steve Parren, a biologist for the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife; Eric Hanson, a biologist at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, who helped save endangered loons in Vermont; and Brian Lowe of Randolph, who put up dozens of kestrel boxes in central Vermont, helping fledge hundreds of the small falcons.