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Celebrating sustainabilty: Four local champions of environment to be honored at virtual awards ceremony

The third annual Longmont Sustainability Awards will be held virtually Saturday
Clockwise from left, Steve Szabo, Jenny Kim, Allison Hummer and Susie Hidalgo-Fahring will be honored by Sustainable Resilient Longmont on Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020. (Courtesy photos. Collage by Leader staff)

Sustainable Resilient Longmont on Saturday will champion four residents for their environmental activism and achievements.

The pro-sustainability nonprofit is celebrating its third annual Longmont Sustainability Awards virtually this year and will present awards to four individuals for their environmental stewardship:

  • Volunteer of the Year: Jenny Kim
  • Youth Environmental Stewardship: Allison Hummer
  • Public Servant of the Year: City Councilmember Susie Hidalgo-Fahring
  • Carbon Free Crusader: Steve Szabo

Longtime Longmont resident Kim is a part of the nonprofit’s Zero Waste Committee and is being honored for her volunteer work.

“Jenny deeply understands the importance of reduce, reuse and upcycle, and she walks her talk. She is an example of the power of one individual making a difference, and we are honored to present her with the Volunteer of the Year award,” Rachel Zelaya, Sustainable Resilient Longmont program coordinator, said in a statement.

Zelaya added that Kim dedicated “countless hours” to collecting trash and recyclables during the annual citywide Longmont Green Up Clean Up campaign held Sept. 10 through Oct. 10, speaking in webinars on zero waste and sewing and donating produce bags.

Kim said that while she sees Longmont residents using reusable grocery bags, produce is still being bagged in plastic. She sewed 36 bags and donated them to Sustainable Resilient Longmont. 

The road to sustainability is one that everyone can travel, she said.

“I think the drive home point about my volunteer work is that I'm not an expert at any of these things. I’m not an expert at sewing, I just learned how to do it myself,” Kim said. “I'm not an expert at composting. But it's something that with a little bit of intention in our homes, we can all contribute to make a difference.”

Hummer, 17, is being recognized for her leadership role in Silver Creek High School’s environmental club and her involvement in the Boulder Earth Guardians Crew, Zelaya said. Hummer also reimagined a socially distanced Sustainable Resilient Longmont Earth Day event on April 22, and organized a virtual youth panel on climate action.

Hummer, now a senior at Silver Creek, said she found a passion for environmental activism during her junior year, when she started attending climate strikes in Denver. Last year, she joined the Sustainable Resilient Longmont Renewable Energy Committee and later the Earth Day Committee. 

The virtual Earth Day panel included students from Silver Creek, Niwot, Longmont and Skyline high schools. Hummer said the event brought a fresh youth perspective to the annual celebration.

“We are the generation that is going to be living with the consequences of the actions that the people before us have placed upon us with the way that they voted and in the way that we have just ran our world,” she said. “So I think it's really important that the people that are being affected directly, and will be being affected for the next years, have their voice in what happens to them.”

Hidalgo-Fahring will be honored for her work on Longmont City Council and as an educator.

“Susie has been a longtime environmental advocate, as a public school teacher, making sure her students learned about caring for the planet and what action steps children and families can take to make a difference,” Abby Driscoll, Sustainable Resilient Longmont board chairperson, said in a statement. “As the first Latina ever elected to Longmont City Council, she has continued her advocacy in support of the environment as well as equity and inclusion. Since social equity is an essential part of sustainability and part of our mission, we applaud Susie for her commitment to her community and leadership to make Longmont a more equitable city.”

Szabo has been a supporter of Sustainable Resilient Longmont since 2017, Driscoll said. He is being honored for his advocacy for the reduction of the use of fossil fuels. Most recently, he drove his red Tesla in the nonprofit’s September VM Motorcade, a parade of electric vehicles driving up and down Main Street. 

“His knowledge and expertise on renewable energy technology, markets and policy has been instrumental. He also brings passion and knowledge about electric vehicles to our organization, which is key, since emissions from transportation make up one third of total pollution. Steve’s dedicated efforts have gone above and beyond,” Driscoll said.

The online event from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday will include a keynote speech by Joe Salazar, former state representative and executive director of climate action group Colorado Rising. Entertainment will be provided by local singer-songwriter Monica Marie LaBonte. State Rep. Jonathan Singer will lead the paddle raiser. More than 40 local businesses have donated items for a silent auction, for which bidding is open.

Tickets for the virtual event are $25, or $50 for a ticket and a take-home meal from Longmont Public House. To purchase tickets or for more information, click here.