The Environmental Education Assocation of Alabama has named Calera High School teacher Brian Copes as the Best Environmental Educator for 2014.
The Best Enviornmental Educator award is the most recent of several for Copes, who was named one of five national Teachers of the Year by People Magazine in 2012. Copes was also the High School Teacher of the Year for the Shelby County School District in 2012.
Recently Copes and his engineering students were the subjects of a documentary entitled “Children Changing the World”, which highlighted their efforts to provide prostethic legs and Basic Utility Vehicles to people living in the Cloud Forest region of Honduras. His students are currently coverting a pontoon into a paddle boat that will generate hydroelectric power for the same region in Honduras.
Copes, who founded a nonprofit organization called Skilled Knowledegable Youth (SKY), is also the organizing force behid the Electrathon races that have become an annual event at Barber Motorsports Park. Copes and SKY helped secure $20,000 in grant funding to help provide 17 electric car kits to several schools in Alabama. His goal is to be able to put one car in every high school, for a total of 67 cars.
Calera High students have also been researching ways to convert French fry grease into bio diesel fuel. All of these projects led to Copes’ nomination for the enviromental educator award by Liz Cochran of the Deapartment of Economic and Community Affairs.