Monday, September 26, 2022

Northeast PA Environmental Partners Announce Award Recipients, Recognition Dinner Nov. 3

On September 26, the Northeast PA Environmental Partners announced the winners of their annual environmental partnership awards and their recognition dinner on November 3 at the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Plains, Luzerne County.
The award winners are--

Thomas P. Shelburne Award

The 28th Annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award will be presented to Michael Bedrin, Luzerne County. 

Mr. Bedrin is being honored for his more than 35 years of service and commitment to Pennsylvania’s environment. 

Mike worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania since 1986 and served as Regional Director of the Department of Environmental Protections Northeast Regional Office since 2004. He directed a staff of nearly 200 from six primary programs and worked closely with 11 conservation districts. 

From 1999 to 2004, he was Chief Counsel for the DEP - supervising more than 70 attorneys. Prior to 1999 Mike was Regional Counsel in DEP’s Northeast Office in Wilkes Barre. 

He also served as Assistant Counsel in DEP’s Southwest Regional Office in Pittsburgh.

Mike’s 35-year career was dedicated to the Department of Environmental Protection's mission -- to protect Pennsylvania's air, land, and water from pollution and to provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment working as partners with individuals, organizations, governments, and businesses to prevent pollution and restore our natural resources. 

Mike’s partnerships as Regional Director and Chief Counsel were numerous. 

He brought together community interests, nonprofit organizations, advocates for local watersheds and individuals concerned with resource protection. 

He worked fairly with developers and government officials with investment and infrastructure needs. 

He was known for his reasonable and proportional compliance responses and transparent approach with regulated entities, community leaders and citizens of the Commonwealth.

Mike’s career touched the populations and natural resources in every corner of Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

His purview included all aspects of environmental regulation, including air quality, waste management, land recycling, storage tanks and hazardous site remediation, safe drinking water, sewage collection and wastewater, clean lakes, streams and rivers, dam safety, water obstructions and encroachments, local water quality and Chesapeake Bay county wide action planning, Growing Greener and other grant programs.

Mike went above and beyond his duties at DEP to further enhance and complement the mission of the agency by effectively increasing awareness and appreciation of our environmental wealth here in Northeastern PA through community partnerships and successful projects. 

He encouraged the development of these effective partnerships at the state, county and local level and supported watershed groups and nonprofits as they worked together with conservation districts. 

The quality of these partnerships has been remarkably effective as environmental protection, remediation, mitigation and avoidance and minimization of resources, as well as an appreciation for the values and benefits of natural resource conservation, has become widely accepted. 

The positive outlook of Mike’s work has been passed onto those around him and his fair and balanced approach towards environmental protection remains strong in those who served under and who were influenced by his leadership.

Emerging Leader Award

The 2022 Emerging Environmental Leader Award will be presented to Mitchell Kirby of Lackawanna County for demonstrating leadership, initiative, and dedication and exceptional personal attributes and skill sets which he repeatedly applied to the successful planning and execution of various volunteer work, and educational events with numerous partners. 

Mitchell worked over 200 hours of volunteer time with Lackawanna Heritage Valley’s Volunteer Coordinator, John Morrow resulting in the establishment of a collaborative relationship with Scranton Preparatory School to engage their students in volunteerism, environmentalism, and education. 

As the Co-Founder and Co-President of the Sustainable Life Society he recruited members to participate in several environmentally focused on the ground projects including invasive species removal and native tree and shrub plantings along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and the Lackawanna River and its tributaries.

Mitchell has consistently proven his leadership, intelligence, work ethic, and most of all, passion for environmental issues. 

His curious and intuitive nature, combined with an innate intelligence, has shown not only the ability to grasp learned knowledge, but to associate and apply what he learns to practice. 

After spending the summer as an intern at Lacawac Sanctuary, Mitchell will attend the University of Southern California to study Environmental Engineering.

Environmental Partnership Awards

-- Bowmanstown Area Residents Connected (BARC), Carbon County, BARC is made up of residents of Bowmanstown, PA. 

BARC members work with numerous partners to recruit volunteers, host community events, and raise funds to support community improvement projects and programs. 

BARC has completed neighborhood beautification projects, native plant species education, installation of murals in community spaces, and hosted activities and services that encourage residents to enjoy the outdoors.

-- Kathy Henderson, Carbon County, for her dedication and commitment to educating Carbon County municipal officials, residents and business owners on how economic development and natural resource conservation go together to improve quality of life. 

In 2017, Audubon Mid-Atlantic approached Kathy to partner on a Return on Environment (ROE) study for the county. 

Kathy, as a steadfast champion of building nature-based economies, was able to create effective partnerships with local and county officials, the conservation community, and the business community on the ROE. 

Kathy exemplifies how partnering can bring diverse stakeholders together to work toward common goals.

-- Lackawaxen River Trail (LRT), Wayne County, LRT which began as a loosely formed group of residents, has become a trail powerhouse in Wayne County due to the partnerships they have formed over just 18 months. 

LRT has partnered with the County Commissioners, Wayne County Community Foundation, DCNR, Fish and Boat Commission, Wayne County municipalities, Trout Unlimited, local business owners, and many more to secure funding, raise awareness, develop river access, create interpretive signage, and keep trail projects moving forward.

-- Penrose, Carbon County, Preservation of the 2,700 acre Penrose Swamp Barrens property represents a decades-long effort and partnership between local advocates, scientists, Wildlands Conservancy, and the DCNR Bureau of Forestry. 

The permanent protection of wetlands and forests at Penrose are key for sustaining clean, healthy water in the surrounding reaches of the Lehigh River watershed. 

The acquisition also protects a core Natural Heritage Area and an Important Bird Area, along with Penrose Creek and sections of Beaver and Hazle Creeks. 

Now, as part of Weiser State Forest, this property will provide public access to forested land and host a wide array of recreational opportunities.

--  The all-volunteer Wilkes-Barre Worker Bees conduct bi-weekly to weekly cleanups throughout the city of Wilkes-Barre. 

To strengthen what they can accomplish with volunteers and expand their mission, the Worker Bees cultivated an array of partnerships with like-minded organizations such as Keep NEPA Beautiful, the City of Wilkes-Barre, local employers, and a local community garden group. 

Their accomplishments include tree plantings, numerous street and illegal dumpsite cleanups, community garden first planting of the season and a cleanup specifically to commemorate Juneteenth.

Northeast PA Environmental Partners

The Northeast Environmental Partners include the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, PA Environmental Council, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, and Wilkes University.

Awards Celebration

The awards dinner will be held on November 3 at the Woodlands Inn & Resort, Plains, Luzerne County. 

This year’s Emcee will be Dr. Katie Leonard, Ed.D., President & CEO of Johnson College.

Click Here to register for the dinner.

For information on how to sponsor the event, please contact Angela Vitkoski, PA Environmental Council, at 570-718-6507, extension 201 or email

Related Article:

-- Sand County Foundation Announces PA Finalists For Leopold Conservation Award  [PaEN]

[Posted: September 26, 2022]  PA Environment Digest

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