Thursday, February 26, 2015

PA Parks & Forests Award Winners Announced, Awards Banquet May 5

The PA Parks and Forests Foundation Thursday recognized the outstanding service, programs and exemplary work being done in state parks and forests with the announcement of its 2015 award winners.
“The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation enacted the awards program to celebrate the accomplishments of volunteers and staff in making the visitor experience to state parks and forests memorable,” says Marci Mowery, President of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation. “These dedicated staff and volunteers are the lifeblood of our award-winning park and forest system and we are pleased to recognize and celebrate their accomplishments.”
Award Winners:
-- Cliff Jones Keystone Legacy Award: Linda McKenna Boxx— This top honor recognizes an outstanding contribution to the protection and/or enhancement to the park and forest system in Pennsylvania. Linda McKenna Boxx was the driving force behind the completion of the Great Allegheny Passage which has become one of the most popular rail-to-trail destinations in the United States.
-- President’s Award: Deloitte, Philadelphia Office— This award recognizes outstanding citizens or businesses that have made an impact in protecting open space, conservation, outdoor recreation, or volunteerism. For the last eight years, Deloitte Consulting LLP has supported a one day cleanup at Little Tinicum Island, a primitive State Natural Area located in the Delaware River that is a strainer for all of the trash that two major cities upstream produce.  This clean-up has a huge impact on the viability of mammal and bird populations living on the island.
-- Joseph E. Ibberson Government Award: Norman Lacasse— This award is given to a person or department at any level of government to recognize their work in the stewardship of Pennsylvania’s state park and forest system. Norm Lacasse volunteers tirelessly for the Capital Area Greenbelt, the Forest Fire Museum, a local shade tree commission, and the Pennsylvania Forestry Association.
-- Park of the Year: Point State Park— This award recognizes a park for exemplary or innovative work in any or all of the following:  customer service; education; programming or recreation; stewardship of the natural, cultural, or historic assets; and/or accommodation of special needs of visitors. Point State Park provides a greenspace accessible to all, hosts popular events such as the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and has been working with Zero Waste Pittsburgh to develop new strategies for waste management, becoming a role model in stewardship.
-- Forest of the Year: Buchanan State Forest— This award recognizes a forest district for innovative and exemplary work in both forest management and recreation for a wide range of activities. Buchanan Forest staff made many recent improvements to improve access and accommodate a wide range of recreational experiences.
-- Improvements Award: Warren Renninger— This award goes to an individual or a group who has completed capital improvement projects that benefited the park or forest, provided ongoing maintenance or improvements to trails and buildings, or innovatively protected the natural or cultural heritage of the park or forest. Warren Renninger has done incredible work stabilizing and revitalizing the heavily used trails at Worlds End State Park to provide a safer and more aesthetically pleasing experience for thousands of park visitors.
-- Group Volunteer Award: Friends of Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center- This award recognizes a group of people who have dedicated significant time and energy into improving, maintaining, and preserving Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests. The Friends of Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center has been promoting public awareness, supporting habitats and educational activities, and generating funds and grants for the Nolde Forest Environmental Education Center since 2006.
-- Individual Volunteer Award: Helen Maurella— This award is designed to recognize an individual who has actively engaged in a wide variety of projects, logged significant number of hours in a park or forest, or developed an innovative volunteer program. Helen Maurella has been instrumental in recruiting and maintaining volunteers and securing grants to fund projects at Nockamixon State Park. She has designed and distributed promotional brochures to draw participants for events she has not only obtained grants for, but also planned, coordinated, and personally staffed.
-- Education Award: Friends of Black Moshannon State Park— The winner of this award provides ongoing educational support or programming, provides a stewardship message through events and programs, and /or organizes events that support that park and/or the gateway communities. The Friends of Black Moshannon is a group of dedicated volunteers committed to offering exceptional educational programming at Black Moshannon State Park, attracting more than 6,000 visitors each year.
-- Young Volunteer Award: Kayce Bobnar- This award is designed to show appreciation of a significant contribution to a park or forest by a person under the age of 25. Kayce Bobnar, a high school student, has volunteered 210 hours of community service at the Cook Forest Sawmill Art Center and Verna Leith Theatre in Cook Forest State Park and has been a tremendous asset to the community and state park tourism industry.
This year’s winners will be honored at the 9th annual banquet on May 5 at the West Shore Country Club in Camp Hill near Harrisburg. Sponsorships for awards are still available.
For more information, visit the PPFF Awards Banquet webpage.

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