Two Niagara University employees were among three Western New Yorkers recognized as New York Environmental Champions by the United States Environmental Protection Agency during an event yesterday morning at the LaSalle Vineyard Community Garden in Niagara Falls.
Tom Lowe, director of ReNU Niagara, and Dr. William Boeck, professor emeritus, were honored for their dedication to protecting the public’s health and the environment. They received the EPA award from New York Congressman Brian Higgins, Michael Basile, EPA public affairs officer, and the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University.
Also receiving the award was Dr. Joseph Gardella Jr., professor of chemistry at the University at Buffalo. A total of 28 individuals and organizations from across the state were recognized this spring.
“It doesn’t take a mass to make a difference; change can come with just one set of hands and one voice,” said Congressman Higgins. “Today we recognize individuals whose passion and tireless efforts have made our community a better place for this generation and those to come.”
“On behalf of the entire Niagara University community, it is my honor to congratulate these environmental champions,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “Niagara is extremely proud of Dr. William Boeck and Tom Lowe. Their tireless commitment to our community and the global environment is a model for all of us.”
Lowe was a member of the inaugural class of the Lois Gibbs Fellowship program through the Clean Air Coalition of Western New York and committed to a year of service through the AmeriCorps VISTA program. As an AmeriCorps VISTA, he managed the Highland Greenfields Project, creating a public park and community garden in Niagara Falls.
In 2013, Lowe was named director of ReNU Niagara, an extension of Niagara University committed to community engagement in Niagara Falls. He currently serves as chair of the Niagara Beautification Commission, which organized over 950 volunteers for a city-wide cleanup effort this spring, and is co-chair of the Healthy Foods, Healthy People Coalition, a project expanding access to fresh, healthy food. Lowe founded Greenprint Niagara and LiveNF, sits on the boards of the Niagara Falls Heritage Area and the City of Niagara Falls Youth Bureau, and has been engaged in various other projects, including the Highland Brownfield Opportunity Area and removal of a portion of the Robert Moses Parkway.
Dr. Boeck began teaching at Niagara University in 1965, first in physics and then in computer and information sciences. His community involvement has been plentiful, headlined by his role as co-chair (with Dr. Gardella) of the Community Action Council associated with the Niagara Falls Storage Superfund Site in Lewiston. An expert in the investigation of the environmental impact of radioactive releases, Dr. Boeck has spent nearly three decades as an advocate for the cleanup of radioactive waste at the site.
Additionally, Dr. Boeck previously chaired the Krypton-85 Working Group of the International Commission on Atmospheric Electricity, and has been recognized for his research of lightning, which included work with NASA.
Each spring, the EPA honors individuals and organizations who have contributed significantly to improving the environment during the prior year in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and eight federally recognized Indian Nations in New York state.
“It is a privilege for EPA to be able to recognize the dedication and accomplishments of these environmental trailblazers,” said Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “These individuals and organizations are an inspiration, encouraging us to do our best to protect the environment every day.”