Master gardener Joyce Hylton was awarded the Ellen Pickering Environmental Excellence Award by the Alexandria City Council on Tuesday night.

Hylton, a local training coordinator for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Training Program, received the award during a virtual City Council meeting. The award, which is the top environmental honor given in the city, is usually handed out in person at the annual Earth Day celebration and cleanup on April 22, but the pandemic forced the event to shift to a virtual format.

“I’m very honored to receive their award, and I want to thank both of Pickering family and Alexandria Renew Enterprises for selecting me,” Hylton said after showing off the award in front of the camera in her home. “But more importantly, I appreciate the efforts of the Pickering family, and Alexandria Renew Enterprises for working to place environmental awareness on par with other governmental considerations as we make decisions for tomorrow.”

The award is named after former City Councilwoman Ellen Pickering, who championed the preservation of Founder’s Park along the waterfront. That effort led to the creation of the Mount Vernon Trail, which runs between Alexandria and Washington, D.C.

“We thank you for giving back in so many ways,” said Mayor Justin Wilson. “You’re clearly a worthy recipient of this award and the legacy of people who have received this award.”

Adriana Caldarelli, an AlexRenew board member, presented Hylton with the award.

“Ms. Hylton has passed along the values of environmental sustainability in her work for over two decades,” Caldarelli said. “Her service to the community as a mentor to over 240 master Gardener volunteers, and a teacher of and expert on sustainable landscaping best practices to so many Alexandrians personifies the Restore The Earth theme of Earth Day 2021.”

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