Last week, the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation recognized its 2018 Award winners at a special dinner and reception at the Susquehanna Club in New Cumberland, near Harrisburg. The winners included:

Cliff Jones Keystone Legacy Award: DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

Secretary Dunn’s passion for the environment is evident in her private life and her long career in conservation. Her career spans both nonprofit and government work, from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and Audubon Pennsylvania, to time with PennFuture and multiple titles at the Department of Environmental Resources and the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. (Click Here for her remarks.)

Award sponsor was Dominion Energy.

Joseph Ibberson Government Award: Rep. Kate Harper (R-Montgomery)

Rep. Harper has a lifelong commitment to Pennsylvania’s clean air and water, open space, and people. Her dedication to Pennsylvania began long before her election to the state legislature with service on the Montgomery County Open Space Planning Board, the county’s planning commission, and as chair of the Montgomery County Lands Trust.

Rep. Harper has been committed to supporting the state’s Growing Greener programs, open space, and the environment, including legislation that helps businesses reduce their carbon footprint,.

Award sponsor was Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia.

President’s Award: PA Wilds Conservation Landscape/The PA Wilds Center

This year’s award was presented to Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Conservation Landscape leader Meredith Hill Poole for being the consummate advocate for the Pennsylvania Wilds to empower the success of the local team and to The Wilds Cooperative of Pennsylvania, the Center’s core business development program. The Cooperative is creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem for more than 250 small businesses, local producers, and artisans critical to a tourism economy and vibrant communities.

Award sponsor was AFSCME Council 13.

Park of the Year: Cook Forest State Park (Clarion County)

Cook Forest State Park has over 2,300 acres of various types of old growth forest, predominately hemlock and white pine. To prevent the numerous old growth trees from falling to the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, park and forestry staff collaboratively work to treat the eastern hemlocks, while also partnering with filmmakers and friends to build awareness about the trees plight. 2018 brought many improvement and rehabilitation projects, as well as events and annual programs for Cook Forest State Park.

Award sponsor was Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.

Forest of the Year: Rothrock State Forest (Centre, Huntingdon, Mifflin Counties)

The staff of Rothrock State Forest is dedicated to forest management and recreation. This is evident by their long list of accomplishments including grading and maintenance of 180 miles of state forest roads to increase forest access, the completion of a recent trail study, and launching a new friends group.

The staff, with their many partners and volunteers improve access to recreation while sustainably managing the forest ecosystem.

Award sponsor was Stahl Sheaffer Engineering.

Volunteers of the Year

Education: Tom and Marilyn Fye, Clear Creek (Jefferson County) and Parker Dam (Clearfield County) state parks

As campground hosts, Tom and Marilyn Fye took hosting to a whole new level with the development of their popular campfire cooking programs, including utensil-less cooking, cardboard box cooking, and tripod cooking.

The Fyes paired history with candle dipping at Clear Creek State Park’s annual Lumber Heritage Day. In 2017, they completed their 60th Woodsy Owl event.

Today, Tom and Marilyn continue volunteering their time at Parker Dam State Park and the Lou and Helen Adams Civilian Conservation Corps Museum.

Award sponsor was Straub Brewery.

Outstanding Stewardship: Gifford Pinchot Disc Golf Club (York County)

The Gifford Pinchot Disc Golf Club has been essential to promoting the sport of disc golf at Gifford Pinchot State Park in York County, not only for experienced players, but making the sport accessible for any park visitor. The club’s dedication to the park goes beyond the regular maintenance to the two, 18-hole courses found at the park, but to the needs of the park in general. In 2019, the group will host hundreds of competitors from around the world for the PDGA Amateur Disc Golf World Championships.

Award sponsor was Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr.

Volunteers: The Over the Hill Gang at Oil Creek State Park (Venango County)

In 2017, the Over the Hill Gang at Oil Creek State Park logged over 2,900 volunteer hours maintaining trails at the park, amassing more than 25,300 hours in 20 years. Trail work includes hauling gear to and from the week’s worksite, hazardous tree removal, drainage and bridge repairs, and splitting firewood. The “Gang” demonstrates that retirement doesn’t mean leaving something; it’s about going towards something new.

Young Volunteer: Sarah Reeping, Laurel Hill State Park Complex (Somerset County)

Ms. Reeping’s commitment to Laurel Hill State Park benefits the children who visit to attend programs and events. Using art and play, Sarah helps children to foster memorable experiences of their time outdoors. Sarah started volunteering as a means to earn church service hours and to spend quality time with her grandmother. She now assists with the annual Blue Grass Festival, stewardship days, campground activities, and movie nights.

Award sponsor was Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI)

For more information on programs, initiatives, and special events, visit the Pennsylvania Parks & Forests Foundation website.