Gibraltar’s Environmental Educator

Gibraltar High School science teacher David Tupa has worked to bring solar energy to the school, incorporates natural resource meetings into his curriculum, and weaves environmental awareness into his teaching every day. For these efforts and more the Door County Environmental Council has selected Tupa as its Environmental Citizen of the Year.

Tupa was nominated by Friends of Gibraltar Special Projects Coordinator Vinni Chomeau and was unanimously chosen by the council as “an outstanding educator that has earned the respect of his students and the school community,” said Jerry Viste, Executive Director of the Door County Environmental Council.

“The environmental council has for many years given out this annual award to deserving individuals who show dedication to environmental issues and have given their time to promote good stewardship of resources,” Viste said.

The purpose of the award is “to highlight people in the community who are doing good work and deserving of recognition for their environmental work,” added Bob Merline, a member of the council’s board of directors.

In 2009 Wisconsin Conservation Congress recognized David Tupa as “Wisconsin Conservation Educator of the Year.” He has been a member and delegate representing Door County on the Congress since the mid-1990s and involves his students in meetings of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

After participating in the Wisconsin Public Service Solar-Wise for schools program, Tupa applied for and received solar photovoltaic arrays from WPS to be used for generating electrical power and for use in the alternative energy education curriculum.

Tupa continues to be involved in the Gibraltar Schools outdoor classroom planning and construction process and has organized the Gibraltar Ecology Club.

“I am grateful that I am being recognized for my efforts,” Tupa said, “but conservation and good stewardship is the responsibility of all of us who live here.

“As a teacher I will continue to educate our youth about our unique and special resources,” he added, “in hopes that they may appreciate what they have,” and develop a stewardship ethic “to conserve, manage, and protect these unique and often fragile resources” for children of the future.

This summer Tupa attended the Advanced Placement Summer Institute on Environmental Science at the Conserve School in Land-O-Lakes in preparation for teaching a new AP Environmental Science class this fall at Gibraltar.

In addition to providing his students with classroom instruction, Tupa has directed his students in many practical conservation activities, such as building bird nesting boxes, participating in bird counts, planting trees, and harvesting salmon eggs with the DNR.

“We are blessed to live in such an ecologically diverse environment,” he said. “Conservation and good resource management requires all of us to do our part.”

Tupa and his wife Sharon, along with daughters Acacia (13) and Talia (11), live in a home he built himself in Jacksonport. Tupa will be presented with the award at the Door County Environmental Council’s summer program on August 25 in Baileys Harbor.