Is there an unsung environmental hero in your congregation or larger community? Often grassroots activists in our midst go unrecognized, yet their efforts are increasingly critical to the continued well-being of the Earth and all who dwell here.

For Earth Day, UU Ministry for Earth invites you to identify and celebrate someone in your congregation who has made a significant effort that you would identify as Earth ministry by naming them a local Eco-Hero. The practice of honoring congregational Eco-Heroes was established in 2008 by UUMFE board chair Claudia Kern.

How to Honor a Congregational Eco-Hero

  • Identify an individual within your congregation or larger community who has done outstanding, dedicated work to build a just and sustainable Earth.
  • Contact your Board or Worship Committee to plan for recognition of this person as your congregation’s Eco-Hero as part of your Earth Day service.
  • Complete a specially designed Eco-Hero certificate to present on Earth Sunday.
  • Include your honoree’s name and one or two sentences about them when you register your Earth Day event.

Past Eco-Heroes

Since 2012 UUMFE has captured the names of Eco-Heroes through the Earth Day event registration form. Scroll down and be inspired! For each year, honorees are listed in the order the information was received. To add your congregation’s eco-hero to the list, simply register your congregation’s Earth Day event.

2018 Eco-Heroes

  • Beth Brownlie
    “Board and Facilities Development Committee member, who has incorporated green building measures into recent church upgrades and led the effort for UUA Green Sanctuary designation.”
       – Alison Kendall, Green Committee Chair, UU Community Church of Santa Monica, CA
  • Frank Burton
    “Earth Day is very much a part of our peace and justice commitment led by Frank Burton.”
       – Sheila McClellan, Chair for Earth Day, Starr King Unitarian Church Hayward, CA
  • I’m not comfortable with “hero”
    “I don’t think we should think of ourselves as heroes. We are simply human beings and citizens doing what we can to protect our children, our environment and ourselves. We shouldn’t think of people as special. Everyone needs to be involved. I’ll call someone a hero if they, in fact, risk their lives or livelihood. But most of us don’t do that. We simply need to be decent human beings.”
       – Michael Fleming, Green Sanctuary chair, Durham UU Fellowship, NC
  • Karen Porter
    “She tirelessly organizes our Compassion Community Garden, styrofoam recycling and church notes on all aspects of being a Green Sanctuary.”
       – Judy Lee Trautman, Worship Associate & Social Justice Vice Chair, First Unitarian Church of Toledo, OH
  • Terra Anderson and Reverend Dennis Reynolds
    “Terra has been president, serves on the worship committee is our liaison to the Green Congregations Collaborative of Whidbey and organized or led several environmental justice events. She is a leader and inspiration.” – “Dennis loves children and is passionate about climate Justice. At BreakFree PNW, he was at the front lines and prepared to be arrested. He recently gave a sermon, “Sacrifice, Simplicity and Life Choices” that brought us to tears.”
    – Gary A. Piazzon, Social Environmental Justice Council co-facilitator, UU Congregation of Whidbey Island, Freeland WA
  • Mary Girard
    – Diane Kirsey, member, UU Fellowship of Lafayette, LA
  • Barbara Glasgow
    “Barbara began our Green Sanctuary program over ten years ago and has led the congregation in efforts including environmental education for the underserved, planned numerous earth day programs, and has promoted the use of solar panels to the UUCGN board.”
       – Amy Clifton, Green Sanctuary Team Member, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, FL
  • James Long
    “James works tirelessly to educate and inform people of all ages about climate change and the global ramifications. He is a volunteer and leader of our Climate Justice Action Group. He always extends opportunities for youth and young adults to not only participate in the group’s events but to join in on the planning process. He is our Eco-hero!”
       – Kathy J. Larick, Youth Programs Coordinator, First UU Church of San Diego, CA
  • Helen (Lyn) Dalzell
    “Organizer for Tarpon Springs community garden program and community meals program.”
       – Robert Murphy, Minister, UU Church of Tarpon Springs, FL
  • Ramon Rodriguez
    “Created organic garden on church grounds.”
       – Grace Lorentzen, green team member, UU Church of Long Beach, CA
  • Kathleen Dargan
    “Kat lived her life doing every possible thing she could to reduce her carbon footprint and to encourage others to do the same. Sadly she died early in March but her legacy lives on in all who knew her.”
       – Anne Vaughn, Sustainable Living Committee Rep., UU Society: East, Manchester, CT
  • Margot Haynes
    “Activist working to block CAFO coming to the community organized two community ‘Green Muskegon’ events for the congregation, as well as supported work toward Green Sanctuary for the congregation.”
       – Gwen Williams, Social Justice Chair, Harbor UU Congregation, Muskegon, MI
  • Michael and Tracy Farrell
    “Michele & Tracy Farrell have led our congregation by their example in their passionate activism for the earth and their dedicated work maintaining our community garden.”
       – John Halstead, Faith-in-Action Ministry co-chair and Worship committee person, First Unitarian Church of Hobart, IN
  • Barbara Lamb
    “Started a community garden and related activities; coordinates church site landscaping and maintenance. An active member of Environmental Concerns.”
       – Gene Burr, Environmental Concerns, Tennessee Valley UU Church, Knoxville, TN
  • Bob Vann
    “Bob has been a dedicated champion of our church by chairing the Green Sanctuary Committee for years. He has advocated for climate justice, solar awareness, water conservation, and soil preservation. He has given Sunday service reflections and motivated us all!”
       – Judith Lane, Earth Day Service Planning Chair, Westside UU Church, Fort Worth, TX
  • Paul Chrakroff
    “Paul was the Executive Director at a local nonprofit that was devoted to environmental issues and preserving our ecosystem. He recently relocated to Spain to pursue a doctorate in environmental studies.”
       – Rev. Qiyamh Rahman, UU Fellowship of St. Croix, Kingshill, Virgin Islands

2017 Eco-Heroes

  • April Lai
    “She is head of Green Glass Green. She does glass bottle recycling in Hong Kong.”
         – Marc Wathen, Treasurer, Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong
  • Katharine Hayhoe
    “Katharine Hayhoe is an evangelical environmentalist, Nobel Prize willing atmospheric scientist,
    highly sought after speaker on bridging the gap between science & religion, was named #15 on Fortune Magazine’s 2017 list of 50 greatest world leaders, and a Lubbock resident.”
         – Louise Sanders, First UU Church of Lubbock, TX

2016 Eco-Heroes

  • Dan Rigney
    “Started the Renewable Congregations Campaign, and got Emerson to purchase Renewable Energy Credits until we can get out of our current contract and switch to renewable energy. Enlisted all other UU congregations in Houston Metro Area, and several other denominations.”
         – Ann May, co-leader of Emerson Ministry for Earth, Emerson UU Church, Houston, TX
  • Emma’s Revolution (Pat Humphries and Sandy O)
    “With gorgeous close harmonies and unsinkable tunefulness, Emma’s Revolution (the Emma is
    Goldman) is a classic, globetrotting folk duo comprised of activist singer/songwriters Sandy O and Pat Humphries. Their music is progressive, socially-conscious, and shot-through with intelligence and cutting humor.”
         – Kees Kolff, Co-chair, Green Sanctuary Committee, Quimper UU Fellowship, Port Townsend, WA
  • Larry Underwood
    “Green Team organizer, leads Lobbying Skills Workshop, organizes environmental film series,
    co-ordinates refuge hikes.”
         – Sally Gibbs Underwood, Green Team/Social Justice, Bull Run UUs, Manassas, VA
  • Sheila Place
    “Sheila has led the charge for our Green Sanctuary for over 7 years, engaging us in Plastic Bag Bans, Environmental Legislation actions, and many educational efforts to help us wake up to our role in addressing Climate Change.”
         – Susan Starkey, Green Sanctuary Member, Unitarian Church of Barnstable, Yarmouth Port, MA
  • Beth Brownlie
    “Beth has integrated green building features into our church renovations and supports Green Committee projects as a Board Member.”
         – Alison Kendall, Green Sanctuary/Green Living Committee Chair, UU Community Church of Santa Monica, CA
  • Alison Kendall
    “As chair of our Green Living Committee, Alison is leading us in our application to be a Green
    Sanctuary. She continues to be involved as we remodel our campus with edible gardens, energy efficient lighting, water efficiency and more.”
         – Rick Teplitz, Green Living Committee member, UU Community Church of Santa Monica, CA
  • Dr. Lea Hall
    “Lea has been a courageous and continuous leader and advocate for the health of the planet and for climate justice. It stretches back years and continues with Lea’s leadership of this service.”
         – Brock Leach, Climate Justice Steering Committee Co-Chair, UU Church of Sarasota, FL
  • April Lai
    “April is manager of Green Glass Green. She does glass recycling in Hong Kong.”
         – Mark Wathen, Treasurer, Unitarian Universalists Hong Kong
  • Joan Walker
    “Initiated and spearheaded our Earth Day Fair. Has inspired our congregation to work together to engage and educate our community with our celebration of the earth.”
         – Carol McLoughlin, Social Justice Committee Chair, UU Congregation of Queens, Flushing, NY
  • Mariel Nanasi
    “Founder of New Energy Economy to fight PNM and fossil fuels with renewable energy (sun, wind).”
         – Maj-Britt Eagle, Environmental Task Force leader, UU Congregation of Santa Fe, New Mexico
  • Carol Semelroth
    “Spearheaded the revitalization of our Green Sanctuary Program and is a model for sustainable
    living in our congregation.”
         – Beverly Huff, Green Sanctuary Co-chair, Tapestry UU Congregation, Mission Viejo, CA
  • Misti Sharp
    “Misti has been instrumental in launching our Climate Justice Ministry, organizing our Climate Justice month activities which include book discussions, films, forums and collaborations with cut climate change initiatives.”
         – Eleanor VanDeusen, Director of Religious Exploration, Foothills Unitarian Church, Fort Collins, CO
  • Sharon Strong
    “Leader of the Unitarian Church in Charleston Green Sanctuary Team – led the church to become a Green Sanctuary Church and is leading the Spring Class on “Change Is our Choice: Creating Climate Solutions.”
         – Richard Hayes, Social Justice Committee, Unitarian Church in Charleston, SC
  • Anne Neave
    “Fearless leader of Social & Environmental Action Group”
         – Rev. Helen McFadyen, Developmental Minister, UU Fellowship of Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada
  • Rich Fendrych
    “Established periodic highway clean up and coordinates recycling of batteries, ink jets and light
         – Janet Kirch, Social Justice Chair, Prairie Circle UU Congregation, Grays Lake, IL
  • David Korten
    “Change the Story Change the Economy”
         – Joanna Welch, Social Justice, Humboldt UU Fellowship, Bayside, CA
  • Allyn Clarke
    “A hard working respected member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (now retired) and an environmental activist in our congregation and our city.”
         – Norm Horofker, Minister, The UU Church of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • Al Gore
    “film & book, An Inconvenient Truth; Nobel prize for peace.”
         – Barbara Kamerance, Chair, Green & Social Justice Committee, May Memorial UU
    Society, Syracuse, NY
  • UU Fellowship Social Action Team
    “This group has been active in working to keep the Casper Acquifer that provides water to the 31,000 city residents clean. They’ve also were the instigators of the first public protest of the selling of coal, oil and gas leases on Wyoming’s BLM lands.”
         – Rev. Jacqueline Ziegler, Minister, Green & Social Justice Committee, UU Fellowship of Laramie, WY
  • Tom Sullivan “Pollinators Welcome”
    “Concerned about the radical death of our pollinators, Tom had devoted his life now to creating
    “bee friendly” places.”
         – Pam Kelly, Co-Chair Social Justice Committee, All Souls UU, Greenfield, MA
  • Allen Armstrong
    “Founder FPUU Climate Action Community, working with Sierra Club on community solar power installations.”
         – Angus Ferguson, Co-Chair Climate Action Community, First Parish UU, Portland, ME
  • Karen Martin
    “Founder of Climate Justice Task Force; funded climate justice consultant to get group going, organizing CJ activities including legislative advocacy, meatless Monday potlucks, talks, film showings, public actions against new pipelines.”
         – Rev. Lee Bluemel, Minister, North Parish of North Andover, MA, UU
  • Deb Hansen
    “She is leading the fight to shut down Oil Pipeline 5 under the Straits of Mackinaw near us.”
         – Betty Palm, Program committee member, UU Congregation of Petoskey, MI
  • Robin van Tine (one of four we recognized in February for Courageous Love)
    “One of our beloved Sunday morning musicians, you’ll often find Robin raising our environmental consciousness, whether through the organizing work of the Green Sanctuary Committee or the worship work of EarthRising. He was part of the Mass Moral March, as well as the Valentine’s Day witness at the Newport News courthouse in support of marriage equality, and was nominated in particular for his work with Southeast CARE Coalition, which is tackling the problem of air pollution in the marginalized communities of Newport News.”
         – Rev. Andrew Millard, Minister, UU Fellowship of the Peninsula, Newport News, VA
  • Diana Olson
    “Diana is a master gardener already involved in the community garden who is spearheading the effort to xeriscape the property.”
         – Mark Lewis, Board Member, San Juan UU Fellowship, Farmington, NM
  • Our refreshments contributors!
    “Everyone who has been contributing plant-based refreshments since last fall is an eco-hero! We’ve been demonstrating to ourselves and our visitors that plant-based versions of dairy products—i.e., coffee creamers, cream cheese, butter—are readily available and delicious, too; they’re better for the planet, better for our health, and kinder to animals. It’s a win-win-win!”
         – Jennifer Greene, Membership Chair, UU Congregation of the Great South Bay, Sayville, NY
  • The children in our ‘Spirit Arts’ group
    “These kids love being outside and bring the adults out. They are connected to the natural world and at ease in it, which is contagious.”
         – Deer Sullivan, Director of Children and Youth Ministries, First Parish Brewster UU, Brewster, MA
  • Carlo Voli
    “He stopped working in order to stand up for climate justice and global warming. He has been arrested, and is a key organizer in many PNW actions, including Break Free next month.”
         – Cindy Creager, co-chair, Peace & Justice Committee, Edmonds UU Congregation, WA

2015 Eco-Heroes

  • Robert Murphy
    “Organized environmental justice delegation to Cuba. Developed workshops for the 2014 General Assembly and for the 2015 General Assembly. Leader in the New England Environmental Justice Summit. Active in emergency services work during winter storms.”
         – Helen Dalzell, Adult Education leader, UU Fellowship of Falmouth, MA
  • Jane Land
    “for her leadership in weatherizing the UUCAS building,”
    Katie Replogle
    “for her leadership on the Green Sanctuary Team, Project Grow, and her ongoing commitment to a healthy environment,” and
    Destiny Kinal
    “for founding Project Grow, for her leadership in the Carantouan Greenway and for promoting sustainability in the Valley and wherever she goes.” (Earth Steward Lifetime Achievement Award)
         – Rev. Darcey Laine, Minister, UU Church of Athens and Sheshequin, Athens, PA

2014 Eco-Heroes

  • Chris Larsen
    “Planned, organized, and worked at several clean up days on the Eno River – collected & recycled stuff.”
         – Barbara Green, Worship Service Coordinator, UU Congregation of Hillsborough, NC
  • Rev. Robert Murphy
    “Massachusetts organizer for environmental justice. Active in many community and district projects.”
         – Helen Dalzell, Adult Education Chair, UU Fellowship of Falmouth, MA
  • Judy Vellend
    “Runs a church climate-action group, writes a newsletter, belongs to many community groups.”
         – Catherine Brown, Co-Chair of Green Team, First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto, CN
  • Michael Brune, President of the Sierra Club
    “Got arrested at the White House trying to stop pipeline from Canada.”
         – Jack Finkenbery, Social Justice Committee Chair, UU Society of South Suffolk, Brentwood, NY
  • Claire Mayer
    “She organized an Earth Dinner potluck celebrating local and organic food (60 attendees).”
         – Linda DeLap, Liaison, Green Earth Ministry, Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, NJ
  • Miriam Kashia
    “Miriam is participating in the Great Climate March.”
         – Deb Schoelerman, Green Sanctuary member, UU Congregation of Iowa City, IA

2013 Eco-Heroes

  • Rev. Darcey Laine and President Katie Replogle
    “Raised the consciousness of the congregation on ethical eating and healthy planet practices.”
         – Chris Eng, Worship Team Chair, UU Church of Athens and Sheshequin, PA
  • Idaho Lorax
    “Fought to remove the radio slag from the phosphorus ore tailings previously used for paving material.”
         – Robert Gehrke, Worship Committee Co-chair, Pocatello UU Fellowship, ID
  • Don Ehat
    “He has made our trails accessible and rid us of invasive exotics. He’s also our president.”
         – Marge Gonzalez, Interim DRE, UU Church of Fort Myers, FL
  • Billie Wachter
    “Brought to us The Rights of Nature Movement. We voted on it on March 24.”
         – Geoffrey Rimositis, Associate Minister, First Unitarian Church, San Jose, CA
  • Robért Demarais Sullivan
    “Organized many public events of witness & testimony about the Gulf Oil Spill & effects on our area.”
         – Rev. Melanie Morel-Ensminger, Minister, First UU, New Orleans and North Shore UU, Lacombe, LA
  • Dave Staudt
    “Got compost bins built here at church!”
         – Barbara Prose, Assistant Minister, All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, OK
  • Mark Causey
    “Mark brings his passion for ethical eating and sustainable living into worship & congregational life.”
         – Jan Taddeo, Minister, UU Congregation of Gwinnett, Lawrenceville, GA
  • Scott Prinzing
    “Continual work promoting organic gardening, eco-awareness and sustainable living – often through music.”
         – Charlyn Scheffelman, Office Administrator and member, Billings UU Fellowship, MT
  • Dr. Wangari Maathai
    “In honor of Dr. Wangari Maathai, we planted a tree as part of NWF’s “Trees for the 21st Century.”
         – Lisa Lawrence, Director of Religious Education, UU Church of Surprise, AZ
  • The Whole Congregation
    “The entire congregation was celebrated in Spring 2012 for its leading role on climate change/ faith-based groups,”
         – Pam Kelly, Social Justice co-chair, All Souls UU, Greenfield, MA
  • Anne Perkins
    “For her leadership in many areas, including advocating against Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, against the Tar Sands XL pipeline, and for divestment from fossil fuel companies. She has also advocated for maximum energy efficiency in the about-to-be-constructed new addition to our meetinghouse.”
         – Mary Wyse, Green Sanctuary Committee member, UU Society of Amherst, MA
  • Toni Bandrowicz
    “Toni’s generous spirit and leadership has guided and engaged us and made us a better community.”
         – Clare Campbell, Green Sanctuary Ministry Team member, UU Church of Greater Lynn, Swampscott, MA
  • Beth Brownlie-Oakes
    “Beth helped to organize documentary showings and vegan potlucks to educate our community.”
         – Jessica Clay, congregant and seminarian, UU Community Church of Santa Monica, CA
  • Pat Clancy
    “Pat is our Grounds Chair and active in multiple environmental activities.”
         – Susan Camasta, Green Sanctuary Chairperson, DuPage UU Church, Naperville, IL
  • Amy Hoffman-Shehan
    “Amy leads a small team of volunteers that coordinates a free community festival.”
         – Doug Strong, Lay member (retired UU clergy), Red River UU Church, Denison TX
  • Raffy Ellias
    “She leads the choir, along with her husband. She leads several services, she speaks about peace.”
         – Lisa Riener, worker, UU Congregation of Lakeland, FL
  • Rev. Lisa McDaniel-Hutchings
    “She directs the Tucson Interfaith Power and Light ministry and was just ordained on April 7, 2013.”
         – Christine Heyde, Intern Minister, UU Church of Tucson, AZ
  • Dr. Rich Mattas
    “He serves on our church’s Green Committee and has been instrumental in prairie conservation in our area.”
         – Rev. Erik Carlson, Minister, UU Church of Stockton, IL
  • January Nordman
    “She is one of the principals for creating the volunteer-supported ‘Throop Learning Garden.’
         – George Yenoki, Throop Memorial UU Church, Pasadena, CA
  • Chad Tolman and Donna Gonzalez
    “Donna lead Green Sanctuary Accreditation/Chad -climate blog, sea level advisory committee/speaker.”
         – Elizabeth Siftar, Green Sanctuary Co-Chair, First UU Wilmington, DE
  • Lisa Bilello
    “She was responsible for the composting, planting and grounds beautification for the congregation.”
         – David Silver, Director of Religious Education, South Nassau UU Congregation, Freeport, NY
  • Karen Lynch
    “Continues as a committee of one to nudge and invite the congregation to become educated and act.”
         – Joanne Giannino, Interim Minister, First Parish of Malden, MA
  • Dr. Frans Vergahen, Sociologist and Climatologist
    “Consultant/Mentor, legacy as Sustainability Specialist, has new book on Climate Change for future.”
         – Dr. Fay Bennett Lord, UN & Global Affairs Committee Programs, Community Church of New York-UU
  • John & Carol Doscher
    “Tireless members of our Green Sanctuary Team – John’s passion is localization and Carol’s is re-use.”
         – Darcey Lane, Minister, UU Church of Athens and Sheshequin, PA
  • David Uguccioni
    “David, organic/sustainable gardener, planted our Earth Day vegetable garden on the church grounds.”
         – Mary Gelezunas, Congregation President, UU Parish of Monson, MA
  • Hal and Donna Estry
    “They are members of our Mindful Eating group, and staff the table most Sundays with food and ideas.”
         – Debra Golden, Spritual Growth & Development Program Assistant, First UU Congregation of Ann Arbor, MI

2012 Eco-Heroes

  • Dean Smith
    “Dean is Carbon Master; taught sustainable skills; started campaign for church solar panels co-op.”
         – Barbara Morrow, Chair Green Team, Evergreen UU Fellowship, Marysville, WA
  • Ed Wilde
    “Ed works tirelessly to beautify our grounds and to encourage local awareness at Hatcher Garden.”
         – Melissa Fritsche, Search Team Chair, UU Church of Spartanburg, SC
  • Tim DeChristopher
    “This is what patriotism looks like.”
         – Gary Kowalski, Interim Minister, First Parish of Sudbury, MA
  • Karen Kleinkopt and Tim Goltz
    “Educationed MUUF about the FARMS program and the importance of providing healthy food to all.”
         – Donna Dolham, Pres. of the Board of Trustees, Midcoast UU Fellowship, Damariscotta, ME
  • Ann Hebert
    “She was our [Green Sanctuary Committee] Chair for SIX years; she lives her life sustainably.”
         – Pat McEvoy, interim chair, GS Committee, UU Congregation of Saratoga Springs, NY
  • Glenn Short and Nancy Hurrelbrinck
    “Glenn is a tirless advocate for the environment. Nancy models sustainable living in every way.”
         – Sharon Baiocco, Environmental Action Chair, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church UU, Charlottesville, VA
  • Cindy Frantz
    “Chair of POWER, and the Energy Committee of the town-gown Oberlin Project. Will nominate [for Guardian of the Future] next year.”
         – Barbara Fuchsman, Commissioned Lay Leader, Oberlin UU Fellowship, OH
  • Doug Harris, Narragansett Indian Tribe, Rhode Island
    “Sermon and preservation of sacred ceremonial sites in our region.”
         – Pam Kelly, Social Justice Co-chair, All Souls UU Church, Greenfield, MA
  • Bob Friedman
    “Bob is a founding member of First Universalist’s EcoMinds group and has been a leader in our Earth Day celebrations for the past 10 years. He served on the steering committee for our Green Sanctuary certification, he is part of the effort to redesign our church’s Faith in Action work, and he has played a leadership role in bringing our Immigration and Environmental groups together for Earth Day 2012.”
         – Emma Paskewitz, Earth Day Planning Committee Chair, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, MN
  • Tom Gibson
    “Tom instigated and organized a large permaculture garden, tying it to UU Principles.”
         – Nancy King Smith, Chair, UU Ministry for Earth, First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, OH