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White House Honors UMass Lowell Professor

Lustick Named a 'Champion of Change'

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UMass Lowell Prof. David Lustick has been named a "Champion of Change" in climate education and literacy by the White House.


Contacts for media: 
White House - Dominique Mann and Becky Fried
UMass Lowell - Christine Gillette, 978-934-2209 and Nancy Cicco,978-934-4944

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, Feb. 9 at 1 p.m., the White House will honor eight local heroes who are “Champions of Change for Climate Education and Literacy.” The event will celebrate Americans who are doing extraordinary work to enhance climate education and literacy in classrooms and communities across the country.  

In his Climate Action Plan, President Obama laid out a series of steps to tackle climate change by combating carbon pollution, preparing for climate-change impacts and leading global efforts to tackle this shared challenge.  Accomplishing these goals will require a 21st-century workforce, where tomorrow’s community leaders, city planners and entrepreneurs have the information, knowledge and training needed to make climate-smart decisions and grow businesses in the context of a changing climate.  

That’s why in December 2014, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) launched the Climate Education and Literacy Initiative, focused on connecting Americans of all ages with the best-available, science-based information about climate change. This Champions of Change event builds on the initiative by honoring those who are inspiring students, educators and citizens to learn about climate change and to develop and implement solutions.

The event will include remarks by White House officials and a discussion with the champions moderated by Marshall Shepherd, the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia and host of The Weather Channel’s “Weather Geeks.”  

The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals, businesses, and organizations doing extraordinary work to empower and inspire members of their communities.  The event will be live-streamed on the White House website at  You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtags #WHChamps and #ActonClimate. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit

Gina Fiorile, Environmental Studies student at University of Vermont, Saranac Lake, N.Y.
Gina Fiorile is a freshman Environmental Studies major and Aiken Scholar at the Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Vermont.  Her passion for the environment developed in high school, where she took a leadership role in many projects related to waste reduction, environmental education and climate-change mitigation.  Gina was instrumental in planning the annual Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, which has now been adopted in locations across the country as a model for environmental education.  Gina was a featured student in a recent PBS documentary that followed the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit and its efforts to reduce the effects of climate change in the Adirondack Park of Upstate New York.  She represents the many students and youth who are committed to climate justice and the protection of our future environment.

Linda Gancitano, Physical Education Teacher at Driftwood Middle School, Hollywood, Fla.
Linda Gancitano is a physical education teacher at Driftwood Middle School (DMS) Academy of Health and Wellness, a 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in Broward County, Fla.  Linda has been an educator for 25 years and has received recognition as a Florida Green School Teacher of the Year, DMS Teacher of the Year and Broward County Physical Education Teacher of the Year.  Linda started the DMS Green Team in 2008 and subsequently created a school-based challenge to reduced energy use called "How Low Can You Go?" that gets students engaged as energy auditors for classrooms (this program has been expanded district-wide through a partnership with the Miami Heat NBA team). Prior to working as an educator, Linda was a collegiate soccer player at the University of Central Florida and a member of the first-ever U.S. women’s national soccer team. She was also the first girl to play on the high-school boys’ soccer team at Coral Springs High School.  

Craig Johnson, High School Educator at School of Environmental Studies, Apple Valley, Minn.
Craig Johnson is a dedicated environmental and climate-change educator at the School of Environmental Studies (SES), a 2013 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School in Apple Valley, Minn. For more than a decade, Craig has been integrating climate change into his classroom curricula through field-based experiences. He has created a wide range of authentic learning opportunities, including school partnerships and exchanges, campus renewable-energy projects, student-led climate-change mitigation activities and climate change teacher in-service programs. In 2007, he brought high-school students to the Arctic to hear from Native peoples firsthand about the impacts of climate change in their communities. Craig was instrumental in facilitating accreditation by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for the SES Education Foundation and has led high-school student and faculty delegations to five UNFCCC international climate-change conferences around the world.

David Lustick, Associate Professor of Science Education, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Nashua, N.H.
David Lustick is an Associate Professor of Science Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Graduate School of Education, where he conducts research on adult learning and climate-change communication. As Principal Investigator on two informal-science learning projects, David leads a team of interdisciplinary professionals who are all dedicated to engaging communities with climate science. Cool Science displays K-12 student artwork about climate change throughout the local transit authority in Lowell, Mass. is a multi-faceted learning campaign on the Boston subway featuring “Ozzie the Ostrich,” who engaged Bostonians with the reality, relevance and hope associated with climate change. Both projects utilize out-of-home media and social networks to engage the riding public with science-learning opportunities during their daily routines.  

John Morris, Interpretive Program Manager, National Park Service (retired), Eagle River, Alaska
John Morris, an Interpretive Program Manager for the National Park Service (NPS) in the Alaska Regional office, recently retired after 34 years of public service. Morris was one of the first seasonal rangers hired to work in Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act parks in 1981.  He has worked actively on a national basis over the past 10 years to develop exhibits and publications, provide training to interpreters and educators, and to help park managers to manage and communicate about the implications of climate change in National Parks. In 2014, he was part of a team that published the first statewide visitor guide and iBook about climate change in Alaska’s National Parks, entitled “State of Change.” Morris also served for seven years as the NPS coordinator for the innovative partnership called Earth to Sky, which brings together scientists, park rangers, and environmental educators from NASA, NPS, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many other agencies and entities in a national community of practice addressing climate literacy.

Amber Nave, Georgia Program Manager, Alliance for Climate Education, Atlanta, Ga.
Amber Nave serves as the Georgia Program Manager for the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE). Through her work, Amber educates high-school students about climate science and inspires them to take action to combat climate change.  To date, Amber has educated more than 45,000 students in the State of Georgia and managed over 75 climate action projects on the campuses of local middle and high schools.  Amber co-managed the Youth Digital Media and Storytelling Hub at the 2013 National Powershift Conference, facilitated a Youth Media Training on climate solutions at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta, and coordinated a youth letter writing campaign in support of climate action.  In 2014, she and students from Dekalb School of the Arts produced an inspiring song called “Planet Savers,” which not only empowered students at their school to take action, but has also inspired thousands of students at ACE Assemblies nationwide.

Sarah-Mae Nelson, Conservation Interpreter, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey, Calif.
Sarah-Mae Nelson is the Conservation Interpreter for the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Online Community Manager for  Through collaborations with the National Association for Interpretation, National Network for Ocean and Climate Change Interpretation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and others, Sarah-Mae creates specialized training materials focusing on climate literacy and interpretation and shares them broadly through the community of informal science educators interested in climate change. Sarah-Mae has personally been involved in training hundreds of staff and volunteers to be effective interpreters of climate science and solutions.  She also committed to living plastic-free for a year and blogged about her experience to educate and inspire others to reduce their environmental impacts.

Amy Snover, Assistant Dean for Applied Research, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash.
Amy Snover is the Director of the Climate Impacts Group and Assistant Dean for Applied Research in the University of Washington’s College of the Environment.  Amy’s leadership over the past several decades has helped put communities in Pacific Northwest at the forefront of climate adaptation and mitigation with an educated, this-generation American workforce that grasps the climate-change challenge and is equipped to seek and implement solutions.  Through her work, she assembles, interprets, translates, and delivers state-of-the-science understanding about climate risks facing the people, communities, and ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest.  Amy was the lead author of the groundbreaking 2007 guidebook, “Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments,” with over 3,000 copies now in use worldwide.  Amy provides her students with impactful classroom experiences, and alumni from her classes and research group are now working in a number of organizations and institutions across the country where an understanding of climate variability and change is critical.  

The Champions of Change website with our bios and pictures 
Streaming for the Event, Monday, Feb 9, 1 to 3 p.m.
Tweet your ideas and feedback to  #WHChamps