On June 9, at an economic conference in Montreal, the non-profit organization Colorado-based Trees, Water and People (TWP) was awarded the Rio Tinto Prize for Sustainability. Rio Tinto, a leading mining group based in the UK, awards the $1 million dollar Rio Tinto Prize annually in an effort to recognize and reward non-profit, civil society and non-government organizations for their significant contributions towards economic, environmental and social sustainability.
TWP focuses on preserving the North and South American natural reserves and wetlands through education and reforestation. TWP also deals with watershed protection and renewable energy to help maintain the wildlife and vegetation in these Central American and American West areas.
Not surprisingly, there's a Peace Corps connection to this story. In fact, three!
- Before co-founding TWP, International Director Stuart Conway (pcitured) worked in the Peace Corps and served for eight years as the Director of the Washington D.C.-based New Forests Project. During that time, Stuart initiated reforestation and watershed protection projects in Central America, Africa, and the Philippines.
- Director of Watershed Protection Jim Webster joined TWP in 2007. He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and worked for the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa and for the World Wildlife Fund in Madagascar and Washington, D.C. Most recently he provided technical assistance to the Western Center for Environmental Decision Making.
- And Assistant International Director Allison Shaw worked in the Peace Corps as a municipal agroforestry extension agent in Guatemala, completed a preserve stewardship internship with The Nature Conservancy, and interned with the National Park Service to provide ecological monitoring and data management before joining TWP.
“We are absolutely thankful, delighted and overwhelmed with gratitude at being announced the 2008 Prize winner." said Conway. "We now have the opportunity to expand our community reforestation and improved cook stove programs in Honduras, Nicaragua, and Haiti. In particular, we will look to use the Prize to leverage additional sources of funding, and increasingly share the work we are doing with other interested organizations."
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