Benjamin Kay, a marine scientist and marine biology teacher at Santa Monica High School and Santa Monica College, has been named a winner of the Green California Community College Summit’s 2011 Leadership Award.

The awards, presented by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office, honor outstanding accomplishments in sustainability within the 112-campus California Community Colleges system. Kay, who was honored in the Teacher Award category, was one of six winners who received the award at the Pasadena Convention Center Oct. 17.

“Renewable energy and sustainability make great sense from a budget standpoint. And, the industry’s growth means additional jobs and quality workforce training at our community colleges,” said Chancellor Jack Scott.

“Our colleges are turning out workers with the skills to build, install and operate these new technologies. I congratulate all of the winners for their fine efforts in helping to lead California’s drive toward energy independence.”

As a teacher at both SMC and Samohi, Kay educates students about aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and the human-caused impacts that threaten their fragile existence. His courses integrate inquiry-based methods, hands-on labs, field trips and expert guest speakers.

Kay also serves as the coach of Samohi’s Team Marine, a group of students who aim to raise awareness about the global marine debris, energy and climate change crises through different service learning and community outreach projects.