Jacobsburg EE Center's Bill Sweeney Honored By Conservancy

Bill Sweeney, program supervisor since 1999 at Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, Northampton County, was presented the Bushkill Stream Conservancy’s Bennett-Merwarth Award for Excellence in Conservation Leadership at the conservancy’s annual picnic September 17.
            Sweeney was the first recipient of the award, named after the conservancy’s first two presidents— Jack Bennett and Sandy Merwarth— and designed to honor an “individual whose vision has guided the formation and growth of the conservancy.”
            “Bill is a passionate and eloquent defender of the value of green spaces," said Kate Brandes, former BSC president, speaking at the award presentation. “His tireless work to protect open spaces in our area has been matched by no one. He has dedicated his life to environmental education and the protection of nature.”
            In a letter read at the ceremony, Merwarth, who now lives in New York, congratulated Sweeney for the award.
            “Without the leadership provided by you and the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center, the BSC would not have taken on the first decade of the 21st Century with the energy, resources and vision that propelled the organization into its predominant role in conserving the abundant resources of the Bushkill Creek and its watershed,” Merwarth wrote. “Please be of good faith in knowing that one person can make a world of difference.”
            Sweeney, who did not know he was receiving the award, thanked those in attendance.
            “This really has been the highlight of my day," Sweeney said. "Thank you. When we help to protect nature, we’re really accomplishing our job.”
            Among Sweeney’s accomplishments cited:
-- Developed a Bushkill Creek watershed educational program to create greater awareness and appreciation of the watershed’s natural resources;
-- Developed and facilitated teacher training workshops, community outreach and educational programs;
-- Developed lesson plans and programs for DCNR focus on land-use planning;
-- Provided programs to local townships interested in establishing local Environmental Action Committees;
-- Served on the Bushkill Township Environmental Advisory Council, and as the local DCNR liaison to the Northampton County Conservation District, Bushkill Stream Conservancy, local universities and conservation land trusts;
-- Member of the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission Greenway Committee; and
-- Speaker at the 2005 and 2007 Pennsylvania Native Plant Conference.
            “Bill has been a great asset to the programming efforts here at Jacobsburg,” said Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center Manager J. Michael Jones. “He engages the audiences we serve by leading by example in the conservation messaging promoted by the Bureau of State Parks and DCNR.”

(Reprinted from DCNR's Resource online newsletter)


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