Voya Honors Hiawassee, Georgia Teacher with First-Place Unsung Heroes Program Award

·5-min read

"Aquaponics Greenhouse" provides the opportunity for high school students to perform hands-on practical research projects that reinforce many of the concepts learned in biology

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), a leading provider of retirement plans for educators, announced today that Kenneth Camp, a teacher at Towns County High School in Hiawassee, Georgia, won the first-place grant award in the company’s annual Voya Unsung Heroes program.

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Hiawassee, Georgia, teacher from Towns County High School (pictured middle) is awarded a grant for $27,000 as the first-place winners of Voya’s Unsung Heroes program. Voya’s Braeden Mayrisch, Director, Social Impact (top left), Mark Jackowitz, SVP, Sales Management, Tax-Exempt Markets (top center), Angela Harrell, Chief Diversity and Corporate Responsibility Officer (top right), Marie Cox, Regional Vice President (middle right) and Jonathan Reilly, Head of Core Sales - Tax Exempt Markets presented the check to Kenneth Camp via a surprise virtual check presentation along with Towns County High School Principal Roy Perren (middle left) (Photo: Business Wire)

Through the Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya awards $2,000 grants to 50 K-12 educators across the country each year to support their innovative and creative teaching ideas. Voya also selects three top winners to receive additional funds. In its 20-plus years, the program has awarded more than $5 million in grants to educators across the United States.

As the first-place winner, Camp receives $25,000 in addition to the $2,000 grant — bringing the total financial award to $27,000. This money will be used to help bring "Aquaponics Greenhouse" to life at Towns County High School.

"We are thrilled to recognize our nation’s educators who go above and beyond, even through the most challenging times, to make a difference in the lives of our leaders of tomorrow," said Heather Lavallee, president of Tax Exempt Markets for Voya’s Retirement business. "For more than 20 years, Voya’s Unsung Heroes program has empowered educators, like Kenneth, to bring innovative teaching ideas to life. We are honored to recognize him as our 2020 first-place winner, and hope that he continues to be an example as he prepares our next generation of leaders for the 21st century workforce."

Camp’s innovative teaching idea, "Aquaponics Greenhouse," focuses on an expansion of the school’s already successful aquaponics program. The current aquaponics system boasts tanks of around 300 tilapia, 150 goldfish, and 50 catfish fertilizing three grow beds, where tomatoes, peppers, numerous herbs, coleus, strawberries, ginger, zinnias, okra and bananas are harvested and sold in the community. The system serves as the focus for several rigorous year-long inquiry-based student research projects that help to maintain and improve the system.

"Mr. Camp has taken the Aquaponics Program on a shoestring budget, to involve students, school and community," said Towns County High School principle Roy Perren. "Because of the grant, we look forward to greater opportunities for our students involved in the Aquaponics Program at Towns County High School. Mr. Camp is our Hero!"

With the Voya grant, Camp plans to purchase materials for the construction of a separate, larger greenhouse. The larger greenhouse would serve as a source for additional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-inspired research and senior projects for students while standing as a community crown jewel. Camp hopes to build a model STEM curriculum program with larger facilities.

To learn more about this year’s winning projects, as well as those from previous years, visit Unsung Heroes (unsungheroes.com). Applications for the 2020 Voya Unsung Heroes awards are currently being accepted through the website until April 30, 2021.

Unsung Heroes is part of Voya Foundation’s signature program, Voya Teacher Voices. Voya Teacher Voices focuses on empowering teachers to become leaders by promoting the teaching career, recognizing high-achieving accomplishments, providing training opportunities and offering financial support to achieve their goals.

About Voya Foundation

Voya Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where Voya Financial operates and its employees and customers live. Voya Foundation provides grants and establishes signature partnerships in the areas of financial literacy and children's education and fosters employee engagement to deepen our positive impact on the community. For more information, visit www.VoyaFoundation.com

About Voya Financial®

Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA), helps Americans plan, invest and protect their savings — to get ready to retire better. Serving the financial needs of approximately 13.8 million individual and institutional customers in the United States, Voya is a Fortune 500 company that had $7.5 billion in revenue in 2019. The company had $606 billion in total assets under management and administration as of June 30, 2020. With a clear mission to make a secure financial future possible — one person, one family, one institution at a time — Voya’s vision is to be America’s Retirement Company®. Certified as a "Great Place to Work" by the Great Place to Work® Institute, Voya is equally committed to conducting business in a way that is socially, environmentally, economically and ethically responsible. Voya has been recognized as a 2020 World’s Most Admired Company by Fortune magazine; one of the 2020 World’s Most Ethical Companies® by the Ethisphere Institute; as a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index; and as a "Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion" on the Disability Equality Index by Disability:IN. For more information, visit voya.com. Follow Voya Financial on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter @Voya.


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Yasmine Lewis
Voya Financial
(973) 687-1997

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