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Karen Acton named 2022 recipient of the Mike Elrick environmental award

June 21, 2022

GUELPH, ON — A former employee of the Upper Grand District School Board with laser-focus dedication to the environment, Karen Acton, is the recipient of this year’s Mike Elrick Environmental Leadership Award. 

For the last twelve years, the Mike Elrick Environmental Leadership Award is presented each year to a staff member or volunteer who has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to environmental leadership within their school community or school board.

During her time as Environmental Sustainability Lead for the UGDSB, Acton implemented and championed many green initiatives.  She helped both elementary and secondary schools acquire their EcoSchool certification – including back in 2019 which saw that all UGDSB schools had achieved EcoSchool certification for the second year in a row. She awarded schools for their green initiative efforts, and created waste audits for schools to participate in so they are aware of the most effective ways to help decrease their school’s generation of waste. Before her position as Environmental Sustainability Lead for the UGDSB, she was the principal at Ken Danby Public School. 

Acton has shown that her passion for the environment and teacher leadership extends past just her UGDSB community. She currently teaches at the University of Toronto, and her research interests have included, effecting positive change in the areas of principal and teacher leadership, social and eco justice, and ultimately student well-being and success. 


Mike Elrick was an Upper Grand teacher who demonstrated outstanding commitment and leadership in his work on environmental issues within the board. In addition to running the Community Environmental Leadership and Headwaters Programs for fifteen years, he also chaired the board-wide Environmental Issues Committee and was involved in numerous other initiatives within the UGDSB. Mike role modelled environmentally friendly practices from biking to school to washing mugs for staff meetings. Mike passed away in November 2009 from lung cancer.

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