HONESDALE – Local energy conservation group SEEDS has received a 2016 Governor's Awards for Environmental Excellence.

The Honesdale-based Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support group was one of only 17 organizations statewide to be recognized for its conservation initiatives.

“It's an extremely big deal for all environmental groups in Pennsylvania and we are very proud of the recognition,” said Jocelyn Cramer, executive director of nonprofit SEEDS, which serves Wayne and Pike counties.

The community-benefit group helps residents and businesses in part by reducing energy costs, improving energy efficiency and promoting renewable energy and sustainable living.

The Pennsylvania Environmental Council and state Department of Environmental Protection will hold a dinner to honor the award winners on April 19 at the Harrisburg Hilton.

SEEDS was recognized specifically for its Free Energy Assessment Program, which since 2010 has offered free, customized assessments of a house’s energy efficiencies.

To date, SEEDS has assessed 229 buildings and has provided summer jobs for more than 15 high school students from districts in Wayne and Pike counties.

The energy assessments are funded through a grant from DEP.

SEEDS also has expanded on the project to include energy assessments for other nonprofit organizations.

Cramer credited SEEDS' partner organizations, such as the Wayne and Pike conservation districts, in helping the group in its efforts to conserve energy.

The executive director also noted the importance of having high school volunteers who are vital to the program and who also gain communication and other skills to assist them in the future. The students also learn how to recognize how to conserve energy, and can pass the knowledge to others, Cramer said.

“That's one of the best features of it,” she said.

Cramer added, “We are very proud of the work we continue to do. I am sure (the award) will help SEEDS with all of the sustainability work we are currently promoting in our region.”

Award-winning projects were selected based on eight criteria: protection, partnership, public service, environmental education and outreach, pollution prevention, economic impact, innovative technology, and climate change.

“Pennsylvania is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a release announcing the awards. “The award winners prove that Pennsylvania is also blessed with excellent environmental stewards. I applaud every winning and nominated organization for their commitment to the commonwealth and our environment.”

The DEP received dozens of entries and the 17 winners undertook “exemplary projects” to support DEP’s mission of protecting Pennsylvania’s land, air, water and public health,” according to DEP Secretary John Quigley.