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City’s 2019 Environmental Award Winners Recognized for Significant Contributions in Environmental Areas

Encinitas, CA - The City of Encinitas Environmental Commission proudly announced the winners of its prestigious Environmental Award Program (EAP), now in its fifth year in partnership with The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project. The EAP recognizes deserving individuals, businesses and non-profits for their commitment to environmental stewardship and outstanding environmental achievements in the City. 

In addition to two Excellence in Environmental Stewardship awards that have been historically granted to a for-profit business and a non-profit organization each year, a new Environmental Hero category was created this year to recognize both an adult and a youth that are not necessarily affiliated with a business or non-profit organization. 

The winner of the Environmental Hero Award, Youth (under 18) category is Elizabeth Hazard, an Encinitas native and 11th-grade honors student at San Dieguito Academy who is making headlines in her work for a more natural world. Working with the Nature Collective and in school, she is a recognized leader in native plant conservation and gardening.  She created her school’s California Native Plant Club which has secured back-to-back First Place Awards in the San Diego County Fair Ecke Jr. Garden Shows.

The winner of the Environmental Hero Award, Adult category is Nita Gilson, founder of CropSwap and ProduceGood, located at The Hive at the Leichtag Commons. The organization’s volunteers gather unwanted fruit and vegetables from farms and backyards and connects this otherwise wasted food with the needy. Since its inception, ProduceGood has recovered over 165 tons of produce, providing over one million meals for the hungry.

The winner of the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Non-profit Organization Award category is the Encinitas Ranch Community Association for its work to create one of the county’s largest recycled water projects (13.7 million gallons of water per year) for upgrading their irrigation system to state of the art automation and sensor technology, and for working with their landscape contractor to convert to battery-powered landscape maintenance equipment.

The winner of the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship For-profit Business Award category is the Inn at Moonlight Beach, the first hotel in the world to receive the prestigious WELL Certification at the Platinum (highest) level. The Inn filters the air and water to its highest levels, the materials are reused and sustainable, a biodynamic urban farm generates its own compost and provides guests local foods, and the site has been remediated and the soil amended to prevent stormwater runoff and soil erosion.

“What awesome work is being done in Encinitas,” said Kristen Victor, one of a panel of five judges for the awards and founder of San Diego based Sustainability Matters. “I am fascinated with the projects and the people.”

Mayor Catherine Blakespear will present the 2019 Environmental Hero Awards on-stage prior to the beginning of the Surfing Madonna Moonlight Beach Run on October 26, 2019 at 1:15 pm.  The 2019 Excellence in Environmental Stewardship awards will be given at The Encinitas Half Marathon, sponsored by Surfing Madonna, on March 29, 2020. 

“These are really impressive applications and award winners that our citizens can both be proud of and look up to as role models,” said Mayor Blakespear.  “These activities will help our City reach its ambitious Climate Action Plan goals - we should all be thankful for their hard work.” 

Encinitas’ Environmental Award Program is the first award of its kind in San Diego County and is one of few in the United States. For more information about the history of the award click here: EAP History.


About the City of Encinitas

Located along six miles of Pacific Ocean coastline in northern San Diego County, Encinitas has an approximate population of 63,000 and is characterized by coastal beaches, cliffs, flat-topped coastal areas, steep mesa bluffs and rolling hills. The city was incorporated in 1986, drawing together the communities of New Encinitas, Old Encinitas, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Olivenhain and Leucadia.

About the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project

The Surfing Madonna Oceans Project is an Encinitas based 501(c)(3) non-profit dedicated to building ocean advocates to protect our local coastline and its marine life. The Surfing Madonna has been the recipient of many nationally recognized awards for their tremendous work in building special needs youth surf camps, disabled adult swim programs, scholarships for disadvantaged youth, marine mammal protection initiatives and ocean accessibility projects.

The Surfing Madonna Beach Run and The Encinitas Half Marathon are subsidiaries of the Surfing Madonna Oceans Project which typically donates between $100,000-$150,000 of its proceeds back to the community. The Beach Run is a current Guinness Book of World Record holding event for the “largest race on sand”, and the Half Marathon is San Diego County's second largest and has one of California's most beautiful courses. Runners and walkers from nearly every state across the country come to participate in this annual nationally recognized community event that hosts over 6,500 participants and awards $20,000 in prize money.