Brecksville, Ohio –Five park program leaders received awards from the National Park Service (NPS) for their achievements in Relevance in Education; and Relevance in Public Engagement and Resource Stewardship. The awards recognize staff members from among the country’s 417 national parks.
Park Ranger Josh Bates, Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park Director of Volunteer Services Jamie Walters, and Plant Biologist Chris Davis were honored with the Achieving Relevance in Public Engagement and Resource Stewardship Award for the Midwest Region of the NPS. Due to their dedication to habitat restoration and conservation awareness, this team was also selected as the national award winner, among all national park sites.
The national winners will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony the afternoon of April 26.
Bates, Walters and Davis have created an extensive program that engages students, youth groups, and the general public. The program has grown in the past seven years to engage over 2,500 people in 2016 – in projects such as removing invasive plants and planting native trees. Days of Service and Habitat Restoration Drop-ins are events that the public can join in on the effort. Habitat Restoration will take place twice per month this summer. Information can be found at www.conservancyforcvnp.org/help-your-park/volunteer/drop-in-events.
“This [program] is a testament to all of the volunteers”, said Josh Bates. “This award is an honor to all of [the volunteers] that have helped us to do all the great work that we’ve been able to do so far.”
Education Specialist Heather Berenson and Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park Program Manager Amanda Schuster were honored with the Achieving Relevance in Education Award for the Midwest Region. This award is given in recognition for their demonstrated passion for educating “at risk” high school students in environmental literacy and creating a strong bond between the park and community.
Berenson and Schuster host the Summer Environmental Education Academy for students of the Akron and Cleveland Public School Systems. Through this immersive program, students learn about the park’s natural resources. Upon completion of the program, students earn 0.5 high school credits.