Thursday, October 21, 2021

PAEP Recognizes Marci Mowery With Karl Mason Award; The Wildlife Leadership Academy With Walter Lyon Award

On October 21, the
PA Association of Environmental Professionals announced Marci Mowery, President of the PA Parks and Forest Foundation, was recognized with the Karl Mason Award and the Wildlife Leadership Academy received the Walter Lyon Award.

The Awards will be presented during PAEP’s Virtual Annual Conference on October 29 at Noon.

Click Here for information on joining the virtual Conference.

Marci Mowery

Marci Mowery entered the conservation arena 29 years ago and has served as the President of the PA Parks and Forests Foundation since 2005.  Her passion is to connect people to the outdoors.  

The Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation began in 1999 as a statewide nonprofit organization to provide a voice for the Commonwealth’s 121 state parks and 2.2 million acres of forest land. 

With PPFF, citizens can donate or bequeath money to state parks and forests, become active and involved volunteers in the park and forest system, and find some fun and educational opportunities. 

PPFF’s status as a registered charity allows chapter friends groups to operate on our state’s public lands for the benefit of everyone.  

Ms. Mowery holds a BS from Penn State University in Education and a MS in Geoenvironmental Studies from Shippensburg University.

Ms. Mowery is responsible for overall organizational leadership of the PPFF including building and continuing to build the Foundation team, providing board support, fundraising, visioning, launching and supporting friends groups, and relationship building.  

She has initiated key programs such as accessibility improvements on public lands, the Great Pennsylvania Outdoor Challenge, funding of key projects in parks and forests, and messaging on the economic, emotional and intrinsic value of public lands. 

She has also completed research for publications, overseen major projects for the PPFF, recruited interns, and mainly serves as a voice for public lands.

The PPFF has four founding principles: Stewardship, Education, Recreation and Volunteerism.  Each of these principles rounds out what the PPFF plans for the future.   

In partnership with parks and forests staff, the PPFF works to provide resources, both human and capital, to ensure the natural, cultural, and aesthetic values of our lands remain for today and future generations.  

PPFF is committed to helping visitors and decision-makers better understand our natural world and the needs of our parks and forests, as well as the physical, mental, and emotional health benefits of spending time outdoors. 

We have long said that our goal is to ensure a place and an experience for everyone in the outdoors. We work to remove real and perceived barriers to “getting out,”,such as our work to place ADA canoe and kayak launches; apply universal design principles to the places we all go for fun and relaxation; to inform and build confidence for outdoor enthusiasts; and improve communication.  

The PPFF works to make volunteerism easy for individuals as well as corporations, and serves as an umbrella to more than 48 friends groups.  Please see their updated 2020 5-Year Strategic Plan.

Wildlife Leadership Academy

The Wildlife Leadership Academy was established in 2007 and Michele Kittell Connolly serves as its Executive Director.  

The mission of the Wildlife Leadership Academy is to engage and empower high school age youth to become Conservation Ambassadors to ensure a sustained wildlife, fisheries, and natural resources legacy for future generations.  

The Academy has graduated 824 high achieving youth from 62 counties across the state as well as students from Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Texas, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, and Vermont.  

To date, the students in the program have reached over 130,000 people across the Commonwealth with their outreach accomplishments. 

Students apply to the Wildlife Leadership Academy and make a year-long commitment to the program.  They start with field school where the program teaches them leadership and life skills and continues with educational materials for their program of choice.  

The Academy has six distinct curriculums: PA Bucktails (deer), PA Bass (Bass and warm-water conservation), PA Brookies (Brook Trout and cold-water conservation), PA Drummers (ruffed grouse and early successional habitat), PA Gobblers (wild turkey), and PA Ursids (black bears).  

Once the students complete summer school, they return to their communities where they conduct a minimum of four field school related outreach projects, in each of the four categories of Education, Service, Media Engagement, Creative Arts, and Outdoor Mentorship.  

This extension of the students’ field school experience allows them to apply what they have learned serving as Conservation Ambassadors to the benefit of the greater community across Pennsylvania and surrounding states, empowering citizens to support a sustainable natural resource legacy.

Ms. Michele Kittell Connolly has been the Executive Director for the Wildlife Leadership Academy since 2012.  Prior to being the director, she was the Program and Outreach Coordinator, hired in 2009.  

Michele received her M.S. in Zoology from Clemson University and her B.S. in Biology from Pennsylvania State University.  

She has a diverse research background ranging from studying the ecological effects of an invasive plant species to fish behavior and genetics. 

She has participated in coral reef surveying in the Bahamas, fish health and husbandry research, and dolphin cognition projects.  Michele has published several scientific manuscripts and has presented her work nationally and internationally.  

She currently serves on the Governor’s Advisory Council for Hunting, Fishing and Conservation

Michele is an avid conservationist and enjoys traveling, birding, painting, nature journaling, and nature photography.

The Wildlife Leadership Academy is now taking nominations for the 2022 field school season.  Please see their nomination process and additional information on their website at Wildlife Leadership Academy – The Next Generation of Conservation Leaders.

Click Here for more information on the PAEP Awards Program.

For more information on programs, initiatives, workshops and other special events, visit the PA Association of Environmental Professionals website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates on PAEP activities or Like them on Facebook.  Click Here to become a member.

(Photos: Marci Mowery and  Michele Kittell Connolly.)

[Posted: October 21, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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