Earth Day Award recipients honored at luncheon

Staff Report

LOVES PARK—J.L. Clark Corporation, Jack L. Armstrong and the Roots and Wings Youth Leaders from Angelic Organics Learning Center were honored with 2011 Earth Day awards at Keep Northern Illinois Beautiful’s (KNIB) Earth Day Awards Luncheon April 7.

Steve Thomas, of This Old House and Renovation Nation, was the keynote speaker of the luncheon, held at Giovanni’s.

J.L. Clark Corporation

J.L. Clark Corporation was presented with the Outstanding Corporate Friend of the Environment Award. The Rockford company has been practicing recycling and reuse in their manufacturing operations for more than 100 years.

J.L. Clark recycles 100 percent of the plastic and metal waste from their manufacturing processes. Upgrading their lighting has resulted in reducing their carbon footprint by more than 84,000 kilowatt hours per year, saving the equivalent of 80 acres of forest or removing 51 cars from the streets annually.

Changes in their shipping procedures have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 83 tons per year.

Upgrades in their packaging operations have reduced CO2 emissions by the equivalent of 18 18-wheelers per year. Their manufacturing operations have reduced water usage by more than 8.1 million gallons of water per year, with more than 95 percent of water used for steel-making being recycled.

The substantial cost savings realized through these energy-saving efforts has been re-directed to the community through J.L. Clark’s increased financial support to 17 Winnebago County non-profit organizations.

Jack L. Armstrong

The Outstanding Individual Friend of the Environment Award recipient was Jack L. Armstrong.

Armstrong is a man who is known as a passionate advocate for recycling; conservation; the value and benefits of environmental education programs; and the importance of connecting youth with the outdoors.

As a biology teacher for 34 years, Armstrong helped educate countless area young people. Since his retirement, he has volunteered his time and talents to the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations in the community.

Armstrong has been the long-time leader of Computers for Schools, a nonprofit organization of volunteers, which has refurbished more than 6,000 computers in the past 12 years and furnished them to area private and public schools and nonprofit organizations.

Armstrong serves as president of the Rockford Park District Board of Directors, and has served on the board of Severson Dells Nature Center, the Four Rivers Environmental Coalition, the Upper Rock River Ecosystem Partnership and was a founding board member of the Sinnissippi Audubon Society.

Roots and Wings Youth Leaders

The Hutchcroft Environmental Youth Award is named in honor of long-time KNIB volunteer, board member and past president, Dr. Alan Hutchcroft. The award was presented to the Roots and Wings Youth Leaders from Rockford’s Angelic Organics Learning Center.

Roots and Wings has been educating the community about the value of composting and worm composting since 2004.

Their efforts have resulted in garden and food waste being recycled in area homes through educational programs they have conducted at Northwest Community Center, Concord Commons, Friends House, the Salvation Army Kilburn Community Center and the Blackhawk Courts housing project.

Through these training programs, youth and adults, who were initially put off by worms, have embraced vermicomposting as a way to reduce the amount of food waste that goes to the landfill. The group has built composting bins and worm boxes at community centers and gardens and created portable worm bins for use at home.

As a microenterprise, Roots and Wings has made and sold small worm bins, complete with worms and instructions, at area farmers’ markets. The composting systems put in place keep garden waste on site and allow it to be recycled into “black gold” for their gardens.

They even created a “worm rap,” which has been performed in Rockford and at the Chicago Children’s Museum.

For more about the Earth Day Awards or other programs, visit or call (815) 637-1343.

From the April 13-19, 2011 issue

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