EEA remembers Petey Giroux, a dear friend and determined leader, through Dragonfly Grants for Environmental Education
In honor of her life of service and legacy of environmental education through the arts, the Environmental Education Alliance (EEA) of Georgia established the Petey Giroux Dragonfly Grant. The program provides mini-grant awards up to $1,000 for projects that use the power of performing and/or visual arts to enhance environmental education.
Petey served as president, advisory board chair, and conference chair of EEA and greatly contributed to making it the successful organization it is today. At the annual conference in March 2008, EEA honored Petey with the Eugene Odum Lifetime Achievement Award.
Petey once summed up her life's philosophy when her daughter, Lynne, asked her for career advice, “It’s finding the path that allows you to give the best of yourself to others and the earth, and sharing your time and talents with others in a way that makes positive change. It’s love.”
In her short life, Petey found her path, shared of herself and made positive change. The Dragonfly Grants Program is designed to honor Petey’s memory by helping other passionate environmental educators make the world a better place, one project at a time.
Mom, storyteller, teacher, student, artist, organizer, and visionary
Anyone who knew Petey knew how committed she was to making the world a better place. Because her enthusiasm for people and the planet was so great, she developed an enormous and diverse network of friends and fans.
Some people knew her as the dedicated parent who created entertaining and educational characters to teach kids about environmental issues. There was the garbage-strewn Waste Watcher, endangered Canis rufus, mother earth Earthina, and freshwater songstress Momma Bass, all starring Petey.
Others learned how to bring Petey’s creative teaching strategies to their indoor and outdoor classrooms through the countless workshops she conducted across the state – as the first ever chair of environmental education for Georgia PTA and then as the first coordinator of Georgia Project WET.
Still others knew Petey as a Twilight Twirler (majorettes at least 45 years old), strutting her stuff and spinning her baton up and down parade-filled streets. Then there are the African drummers with whom she donned a dashiki and pounded away on percussion instruments. And her outdoor education graduate school cohorts (who were less than half her age – sorry, Petey) knew her as a consummate storyteller who made their trip to the Boundary Waters exciting and memorable.
Petey helped establish the Chattahoochee River Environmental Education Center and directed the Parks as Classrooms program for the National Park Service. As an environmental outreach coordinator for the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Petey championed environmental education through the arts by inspiring teachers statewide to participate in such programs as River of Words, a national art and poetry contest that encourages students to know their watershed. Petey also left her magic mark on Project WET USA, the Georgia Aquarium, and the Georgia Conservancy – they’ll never be the same.
Regardless of how you knew Petey, you knew she was a determined leader. Wearing the "mommy shoes” as she called them, she helped her own children become vibrant, successful young women. Through her children’s schools, she became involved in the Georgia PTA and after serving in many leadership positions at the school and district level, Petey was invited to create the position of environmental chairperson at the state level. She transformed the work of PTAs throughout Georgia by making environmental education a priority. In July 2008, Georgia PTA honored Petey with its Visionary Award.
Petey’s birth name, Mary Martin, was shared by the actress who played the title role in “Peter Pan” on Broadway. Her nickname, “Petey,” was a perfect fit because she possessed a childlike wonder for the natural world and a commitment to having fun. Like Peter Pan, “she never wanted to grow up,” said her daughter, Courtenay.
Xena the Warrior Princess and Harry Potter
Petey brought her creative spirit to her battle with pancreatic cancer. The year she was diagnosed, Petey celebrated her favorite holiday, Halloween, as Xena the Warrior Princess to fight the disease that she referred to, as Harry Potter might, “The ‘c’ that shall not be named.” For her 63rd birthday that year, 45 friends joined Petey for a pajama party in the North Georgia mountains. Party guests wore viking helmets, pirate hats, sequined caps and other costumes from Petey’s impressive collection.
- EEA President: 2003-04