Two National Parks Headquartered in Washington County Win Top Honors
Two National Parks Headquartered in Washington County Win Top Honors
(Washington, DC)- The U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Lynn Scarlett, Thursday recognized the 2007 "Take Pride in America National Award" recipients.
Individuals and groups were recognized and picked up their awards at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The awards acknowledge outstanding contributions to conservation, preservation and education for local, state and federal public lands.
"These are extraordinary individuals and organizations who have tapped into the power of volunteerism to enhance our public lands and improve the experiences of visitors to those lands," Deputy Secretary Scarlett said at the ceremonies.
USA Freedom Corps Acting Director Kathy Wills Wright and Take Pride in America Executive Director Heather Roebke joined Deputy Secretary Scarlett in presenting the awards and Clint Eastwood, Take Pride spokesman, addressed the audience via a recorded video message.
The annual Take Pride in America National Awards recognizes specific volunteer projects and efforts in a variety of categories, including youth organization, corporation, public/ private partnership and individual, among others. These awards recognize events, projects and programs targeted at maintaining or enhancing public lands such as parks, rivers, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, local playgrounds and other recreation areas.
Two National Parks located in Washington County, Maryland and their volunteers were recognized. The C&O Canal National Historical Park's Superintendent Kevin Brandt received the award for Federal Land Manager. Also the C&O Canal NHP's volunteers at the Riley's Lockhouse in Montgomery County were also awarded recognition.
Antietam National Battlefield's volunteers were recognized for best Federal/Event Program. Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John Howard said, "This award recognizes the entire volunteer program for the Battlefield, including day to day operations and special events." The award lauded the volunteers who contributed more than 23,000 hours of service to Antietam National Battlefield.
The Riley's Lockhouse Docents were awarded the Youth/Youth group award. For over 30 years the volunteer docents have trained Girl Scouts USA troops who then served as volunteer interpreters at Riley's Lockhouse near Seneca on the C&O Canal. The Girl Scouts dress in hand-sewn period clothing and use canal-era props and toys to tell the story of life along the C&O Canal. They lead tours and present demonstrations of activities of the time, such as laundry, butter churning, cross stitching, and quilting. For their service the scouts earn service hours toward the Silver Trefoil Award, a community service award. In 2006 295 Girls Scouts provided 1,180 hours interpreting the history of the canal and the lockhouse to park visitors. Since 1976 these activities have been coordinated by a small group of volunteer leaders who perform all of the support tasks to make this program effective.
C&O Canal Superintendent Kevin Brandt was awarded the Federal Land Manager award for the National Park Service. Superintendent Brandt has consistently promoted volunteerism as a way for the park to build stewardship and to further the park's mission. Under Brandt's guidance, 2,461 volunteers contributed 53,228 hours in 2006 alone. The value of this time is estimated at $960,233. Volunteers serve as Bike Patrollers, staff visitor centers, perform trail repairs, remove exotic and invasive plants, paint, remove trash, install wayside exhibits, and landscape heavily visited areas. Under his leadership the program has won the 2005 Take Pride Award for the most outstanding volunteer program in the Federal government, and numerous awards for individual and group volunteer efforts.
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park Superintendent Kevin Brandt said, "I believe in the mission of Take Pride in America. I also believe in the positive impact of collaborative efforts to better the C&O Canal National Historical Park." Headquartered in Washington County, Maryland, the C&O Canal is a 185 mile long linear park that stretches from Washington, DC to rural Cumberland, MD. Washington County has the largest percentage of the park, more than any other single jurisdiction with 80 miles of the park located in the county. Superintendent Brandt has made it a priority to engage the numerous adjacent communities to create a stronger level of stewardship for Maryland's largest and most-visited National Park.
Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau President Tom Riford said, "To have two national parks honored with these awards, and both are headquartered in our county, speaks volumes. Of the 18 total national awards, two national parks located in Washington County, and their volunteers, were recognized for their excellence. This is a proud moment for our community." Riford noted that Hagerstown-Washington County has five national parks and eight state parks all or partly located in Washington County, "The only two national parks listed in the awards are right here in our county."
The C&O Canal NHP attracted more than 3.1-million visitors state-wide, and more than 600,000 visitors in Washington County's section of the park last year. Antietam National Battlefield attracted nearly 700,000 visitors in 2006, with nearly 300,000 people coming into the Antietam Visitors Center. According to the National Park Service, combined, the parks contribute more than $19-million to the local Washington County economy.
(BOLD)2007 Take Pride in America National Award Winners by Category:
. Carolle and Glenn Aldinger; Chincoteague, VA . Marlene M. Lugg; Winnetka, CA . James C. Thompson; Ardmore, OK
. The Friends of Hunting Island State Park, Inc. Loggerhead Sea Turtle Conservation Project; Saint Helena Island, SC
. California Golden Trout Restoration Program; Golden Trout Wilderness, CA
. Antietam National Battlefield Volunteers; Sharpsburg, MD
. Wetlands Education Team; West Geauga Middle School, Chesterland, OH
. The Power Washers of North America; Quakertown, PA
. Lake Wales Ridge Rangers; Lake Placid, FL
(BOLD)Local Government Event
. City of Clifton Clean Communities Program; Clifton, NJ
. Riley's Lockhouse Docents; Hagerstown, MD
. Arapahoe and Aurora Colorado Stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
(BOLD)Federal Land Manager
. Kevin D. Brandt, Superintendent, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, National Park Service; Hagerstown, MD
. Tara Whitsel, Park Ranger, Raystown Lake, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Hesston, PA
. Steve Brimm, Project Leader, D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Spearfish, SD
. Thomas M. Pogacnik, Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager, California State Office, Bureau of Land Management; Sacramento, CA
. Jack Simes, External Coordination Manager, Lower Colorado Region, Yuma Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation: Yuma, AZ
(BOLD)Outstanding Take Pride Supporter
. Student Conservation Association