JACKSON — A township teacher who’s motivated students to be more green-minded has been given a $25,000 cash award to use as she wishes.

Shaina Brenner, who teaches second graders at Elms Elementary School, was surprised to be presented with a Milken Educator Award at a recent school-wide assembly of peers, students and state and local officials.

Brenner helped create a new recycling initiative at the school, involving bins and signs for every classroom and a "Green Team" of students that supports classroom efforts, leads school-wide energy contests and provides training, tools and resources for sharing conservation ideas.

Her leadership on environmental efforts was a factor in the school being named the first national Green Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education this past April on Earth Day.

At least one educator in NJ has been among recipients of the Milken awards each year for the past two decades.

There is no formal nomination or application process. Instead, “candidates are sourced through a confidential selection process and then reviewed by blue ribbon panels in each state,” according to the organization.

Final selections are made by the Milken Family Foundation.

Past recipients of the unrestricted cash awards have spent funds on their children's or their own continuing education, financing dream field trips, establishing scholarships, and even adopting children, according to the foundation.

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

Click here to contact an editor about feedback or a correction for this story.

10 years later — Sandy makes landfall in New Jersey

Say you’re from Jersey without saying you’re from Jersey

These are everyday expressions that only someone from New Jersey would get. What else should be on this list?

States with the most registered hunters

Stacker analyzed data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to determine which states have the most registered hunters. Read on to see how your state ranks on Stacker’s list.

RANKED: Here Are the 63 Smartest Dog Breeds

Does your loyal pup's breed make the list? Read on to see if you'll be bragging to the neighbors about your dog's intellectual prowess the next time you take your fur baby out for a walk. Don't worry: Even if your dog's breed doesn't land on the list, that doesn't mean he's not a good boy--some traits simply can't be measured.

LOOK: Baby names that are illegal around the world

Stacker scoured hundreds of baby name databases and news releases to curate a list of baby names that are illegal somewhere in the world, along with explanations for why they’re banned.

More From 105.7 The Hawk