On October 26, the Pennsylvania Audubon Council presented its Walt Pomeroy Conservation Award to Cindy Adams Dunn, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The award, a framed limited edition print of a Ruffed Grouse by the acclaimed Pennsylvania artist, Ned Smith, was given in a simple ceremony in the Rachel Carson Office Building. A small group attended the ceremony including: Lin Pomeroy, Walt’s widow, as well as individuals who worked with Walt and were friends of the family over the years. Leigh Altadonna, President of the Pennsylvania Audubon Council, and Heidi Shiver, Secretary of the Council and President of Pennsylvania Bird Town, presented the award. This award is built on the tradition created by the Audubon Council of Pennsylvania, to honor individuals who had made important contributions to conservation in Pennsylvania.
Past recipients of the Conservation Award in the 1990s included: Governor Robert P. Casey; Sr., Congressmen Peter Kostmayer and Jim Greenwood; Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, Dr. Maurice K. Goddard; and others. All of these past awards were earmarked by a simple ceremony, not associated with any fundraising event, and for the sole purpose to honor a deserving recipient. Historically the award was in the form of a framed piece of bird art with a simple engraved plaque.
In 2022, the Pennsylvania Audubon Council reestablished the “Walt Pomeroy Conservation Award.” It is a fitting tribute to honor the memory and legacy of Walt Pomeroy. Walt was a great friend of Audubon here in Pennsylvania as well as throughout the former six-state Audubon Mid-Atlantic Region. Walt served Audubon for seventeen years in the 1980s and 1990s. Walt was responsible for the establishment of many of our chapters here in Pennsylvania as well as Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Walt provided immeasurable support to chapters and chapter leaders, and established Audubon Councils in each of these states. Regular Council meetings were used to help coordinate the chapter network. Walt was integral to the formal incorporation of the Audubon Council of Pennsylvania and the reestablishment of the Pennsylvania Audubon Council, and led the successful effort to establish the Pennsylvania Audubon state office with the appointment of Cindy Adams Dunn as the first Executive Director of Audubon Pennsylvania.
After his departure from Audubon, Walt continued to serve on the Audubon Pennsylvania Advisory Board. He also served for many years with the various Boards that led to the establishment of the John James Audubon Center in Audubon, Pennsylvania. Walt also served on the Board of the Seabird Institute and the Friends of Hog Island, an invaluable Audubon asset.
Walt understood the importance of recognizing the efforts and leadership of individuals who sustained the conservation work critical to us all. “It is fitting that Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Cindy Adams Dunn, is the first recipient of the Pennsylvania Audubon Council Walt Pomeroy Conservation Award,” Altadonna said. “Cindy’s long association with Walt Pomeroy, Appalachian Audubon, our chapters, the Council, and her sterling record of conservation achievement make her an outstanding honoree. She clearly represents the conservation legacy established by Walt Pomeroy that is commemorated in the Pennsylvania Audubon Council’s Walt Pomeroy Conservation Award.”
In an earlier tribute to Walt Pomeroy, Dunn noted that Walt Pomeroy was a friend and a mentor and was the first environmental professional with whom she worked in the beginning of her career in conservation. Walt’s commitment to respect and engage the grassroots in Audubon made a deep impression with Dunn. He drove around the six-state Audubon Mid-Atlantic region to meet with Audubon chapters and their statewide councils and took time to reach out on the phone with the volunteer leaders. Dunn was struck by the way Walt led with his enthusiasm, energy, humorous and positive approach to everyone with whom he worked: “He garnered engagement and commitment from Audubon volunteers and later, watershed organizations.” Dunn added that: “Over the years, I learned a lot from Walt, but the main thing is that environmental volunteerism is a choice people make and besides understanding the issues and choosing to get active, volunteers need to be engaged and also have some fun.”
For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Pennsylvania Audubon website. Questions should be directed to Leigh Altadonna, President of the Pennsylvania Audubon Council at [email protected].
This story initially published on PA Environment Digest Blog.