Lubrizol Corp. visited Lake Catholic High School Monday so they could give educator Tim Pira their annual Lake County Science Teacher Award.
Chris Ciolli, a project manager at Lubrizol, said they picked Pira for his innovative initiatives like his:
- sustainability project, which includes gardens behind the school in which the students grow vegetables that are later used for their meal ministry.
- vivarium that houses displays on invasive species -- including buckthorn trees picked from the school's grounds -- tropical plants, a pond, a small-scale model that depicts the dangers of erosion and the beginnings of a water-filtration lab.
- BioBlitzes that encourage students to catalogue all the local flora and fauna in an area. This practice helps them realize the importance of conservation -- not just nationally, but locally.
"It's teachers like Tim who are going to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers who will keep America competitive," Ciolli said.
In addition to a plaque for the school and a statue for the teacher, Pira will also receive $5,000 that he can put toward any project he wants.
Pira is already thinking about building portable gardens that can be taken to other schools, so his Lake Catholic students can teach younger children about soil health and the biology of gardening.
Pira said he was flattered and surprised by Lubrizol's award, but his coworkers, bosses and students also deserved credit.
"It's not an accomplishment of one," he said.
Pira added that he appreciated Lubrizol emphasizing the importance of education.
The Lubrizol employees toured Lake Catholic before giving Pira his award and they were impressed with some of the unique ways in which the students could learn at the school.
"I was very impressed with what we've seen today," said Bob Graf, the corporate vice president for research and development at Lubrizol. "This vivarium is exceptional. It's something I've never seen before."
"Keep up the good work," Graf told the Lake Catholic staff and students, "because Lubrizol wants more chemists, scientists and engineers. And we want to hire them in Lake County.
"And they're all good-paying jobs," he added.