In recognition of Women’s History Month, PennFuture, in conjunction with the National Wildlife Federation, Wednesday presented its 2016 Celebrating Women in Conservation award to Sister Pat Lupo of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie for her dedication and achievements in the environmental field.
At a reception at the Erie Art Museum, PennFuture president and CEO, Larry Schweiger, said of Lupo, "Sister Pat’s efforts to mitigate climate change and transition the commonwealth to clean energy are deeply rooted in her faith and passion for educating others. Her tireless activism is evident in the numerous organizations with which she is affiliated and her consistent presence in the community."
Lupo has served on Gov. Tom Wolf’s transition team for environmental protection, devoted 26 years as a member of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Citizens Advisory Council, and was a finalist for the Green Building Alliance’s 2015 Luminary Award.
She has served on numerous local and regional, environmentally focused boards such as the County Off Shore Wind Committee, Erie Vital Signs, Great Lakes Commission, Lake Erie Region Conservancy, Northwest Pennsylvania Green Economy Task Force, Our Water Our Rights, PA Lake Erie Watershed Association, PA Sea Grant, Presque Isle PAC, and served on the Environmental Advisory Committee for Sen. Sean Wiley (D-Erie).
Additionally, Sr. Lupo is a member of the Emmaus Grove, Erie Urban Farm School, and Mount St. Benedict Energy steering committees.
"We all know that no one person earns an award and this is true of this award," said Lupo as she accepted the honor. "This award belongs to the people I work with every day. They, too, are committed to inspire and transform the next generation. With Margaret Mead I am convinced that we should, 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.'"
With the next generation at the heart of her work, Lupo is a steadfast advocate for environmental education and works with the Erie Neighborhood Art House and John E Horan Garden Apartments leading Green Teams, community gardening, clean up, recycling, and volunteer initiatives.
"I don’t think there is anything more rewarding than working with children and young adults unless it’s meeting them 10 or 20 years later and seeing the wonderful people they have become," said Lupo.
"Our environmental program strives to have the children become catalysts for action in their neighborhoods," added Lupo. "In the process, they become aware of environmental concepts and strategic planning; they work on projects with neighbors, businesses and government officials. They learn the importance of sharing their knowledge with others as well as supporting the work of other groups in our community. Our young people, all young people, are awesome when given the opportunity."
Unafraid to speak out on critical issues, Lupo has penned countless blog posts and opinion pieces in local and regional newspapers, often connecting faith and the environment with what she believes is a moral obligation for people to care for the planet.
"A call to action has been issued by the faith leaders in our communities," said Lupo. "We have a moral imperative to live sustainably now so that a healthy, vibrant Earth can be passed to the next generations. This call to action means that we pursue social justice causes in legislation – in the public arena. It means we form new alliances and break through the partisan divides that threaten the life of the planet on every side."
Over 75 members of the community, including faith, environmental, elected leaders were on hand to congratulate Lupo, including Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper."Each year PennFuture acknowledges outstanding contributions in the areas of Pennsylvania’s environmental health and conservation," added Schweiger. "We’re thrilled to recognize this fearless champion and faith leader who effectively educates and mobilizes her community in conservation and climate action."