Monday, July 31, 2023

Northeast PA Environmental Partners Announce 2023 Environmental Partnership, Shelburne And Emerging Leaders Award Recipients

On July 28, the
Northeast Pennsylvania Environmental Partners announced the 2023 Environmental Partnership, Thomas P. Shelburne and Emerging Leader Award recipients.

The recipients will be honored on October 19 at the 33rd Annual Evening for Northeast Pennsylvania’s Environment to be held at the Woodlands Inn & Resort in Plains, Luzerne County.  

This year’s Emcee will be Mr. Cain Chamberlin, Executive Director of Endless Mountains Heritage Region.

Thomas P. Shelburne Award - John Levitsky

The 29th Annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award will be presented to John Levitsky, Luzerne County

Mr. Levitsky is being honored for his nearly 40 years of service and commitment to Pennsylvania’s environment. 

John’s professional conservation resume is vast, with many great projects and efforts to improve the local environment being done and led by him over the past couple of decades.

John began volunteering as a committee member for Ducks Unlimited in 1984 where he volunteered for many years on habitat improvement projects, such as installing wood duck boxes on State Game Lands. 

His interest in waterfowl and other wildlife led John to return to school to earn a degree from Penn State University in Wildlife Technology. 

While studying at Penn State, John worked for the Game Commission as a Wildlife Technician banding and conducting evaluations of habitat and migration patterns of ducks, geese, and American woodcock. 

He continues working with the PGC as a volunteer doing American Woodcock banding research and habitat use evaluations.

John entered the private sector working as an Environmental Scientist for Borton-Lawson, where he established the Environmental Sciences department and provided consulting services on a broad range of environmental issues, including wastewater treatment, water quality issues, wetland evaluations and mitigations, and federal, state, and local environmental regulations.

For the last 9 years John serves as the Luzerne County Conservation District’s Watershed Specialist where he has coordinated stream improvement projects, conducted water quality assessments, worked on acid deposition mitigation, studied and sought solutions for abandoned mine discharge stream impacts, conducted submerged aquatic vegetation assessments for threatened, endangered and invasive species, and addressed numerous other natural resource challenges throughout Luzerne County.

John has led numerous efforts that have had direct results in conserving natural resources in Northeastern Pennsylvania. 

He has helped foster a conservation ethic for countless people and cultivated lasting partnerships with many organizations throughout the area by making environmental stewardship understandable through his sincere and accessible way of working with people, all qualities that align well with the ideals embodied by the Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award.

Emerging Leader Award - Jacob Smith

The 2023 Emerging Environmental Leader Award will be presented to Jacob Smith of Luzerne and Lehigh Counties 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.

Jacob is a rising senior in the Environmental Engineering program at Wilkes University where he is excelling in his studies, but his work does not stop at the end of the school day. 

Jacob educates his fellow students about fisheries sustainability and involves them with clean up events, stream restoration, and developing informational signage about native species. 

Jacob has volunteered with the Game Commission, Trout Unlimited, and Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition of Abandoned Mine Reclamation on stream restoration projects, surveying, cleanups, mapping, and educational events.

Jacob has also been recognized and honored by several state agencies including the Wildlife Conservation Award from the Game Commission and the Conservation Award from the Fish and Boat Commission.

From work, to school, to his volunteer and civic engagements, Jacob maintains an enthusiasm and dedication that brings positive change. 

He is leaving his mark on Northeastern PA and is destined to leave an even bigger mark on the world. 

Jacob Smith is an exceptional example of an Emerging Environmental Leader whose future is bound to have a continued positive impact on the Northeast Pennsylvania region.

Environmental Partnership Awards

Recipients of the 33rd Annual Environmental Partnership Awards are--

-- Earth Conservancy, Luzerne County, for its Espy Run Stream Restoration project. Espy Run had been lost underground through fractures at the former Bliss strip mine. This project rebuilt over 6,000 linear feet of the absent/impaired channel rejoining the upper and middle reaches after more than 70 years of disconnection. 

The newly intact channel, with uninterrupted flow, has improved water quality, mitigated erosion and sedimentation, reestablished aquatic, and terrestrial habitat, and transformed a blighted area into a green, natural space.

-- John Morrow, Lackawanna County, for his work with the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Authority (LHVA) volunteer and summer youth programs for the past several years. 

John oversees hundreds of volunteers that LHVA engages with throughout the year for projects to maintain the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail and other activities including invasive species removal, tree plantings and maintenance, trash and dumping cleanups, riverbank stabilization, and more.

-- Nicole Shapiro, Lackawanna County, for her initiative and innovation at the Lackawanna County Office of Sustainability

Nicole not only oversees several programs including recycling and water education, but she also initiated the first county municipal electronics recycling event, held the first county Earth Day event, expanded an existing tire recycling event to include cleanups, started a KCup and Coffee Pod recycling program, and installed two Native Pollinator Gardens in the county in partnership with the Lackawanna County Conservation District.

-- Scranton Tomorrow, Lackawanna County, is a business and community development nonprofit that focuses on conservation and community engagement with a vision for a clean and green future for Scranton. 

Scranton Tomorrow engages with over 1,000 volunteers to implement projects, including planting and maintaining seasonal flowers in downtown sidewalk planters, annual cleanups, urban landscape projects, educational outreach, and recycling events and most recently installing a Pocket Park in the City of Scranton.

The Northeast Pennsylvania 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.

For information on how to sponsor the Awards Event, please contact Angela Vitkoski at 570-718-6507 ext. 201 or email

Click Here to purchase tickets for the 33rd Annual Evening for Northeast Pennsylvania’s Environment.

[Posted: July 31, 2023]  PA Environment Digest

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