Laurie Popeck, Maurice K. Goddard Legacy Task Force Win 2011 Karl Mason Award

The PA Association of Environmental Professionals presented its 2011 Karl Mason Awards on September 22 to Laurie Popeck and the Maurice K. Goddard Legacy Task Force (to be awarded at a separate event).  
            Each year, at the PAEP Annual Conference, the Karl Mason Award is presented to meritorious nominees selected by the Board from two general categories: an individual who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in the field of environmental management and an organization, project or program that has made a significant contribution toward maintenance or restoration of Pennsylvania’s environmental quality.
            Here is more background on each of the winners.
            Laurie Popeck
            Laurie’s passion for and dedication to the environment began at age 5 when her parents introduced her to the legacy of Rachel Carson.  After visiting the Rachel Carson Homestead in Springdale, Pa, Laurie felt a strong call to protect the environment.  Her deep love of nature grew and she was committed to following in Carson’s footsteps.
            Her academic achievements include earning a BS in Environmental Biology from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts, a MS in Environmental Science and Management and a Paralegal Certificate from Duquesne University in PA.  
            Laurie helped build and promote the Ohio Watershed Celebration into a successful event.  The ORWC is an annual event that is open to the general public at no cost, thanks to Laurie’s sponsorship fundraising. 
            The OWRC is an educational event that illustrates the value of watershed protection and conservation.  The OWRC demonstrates, from the unique perspective of Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers, the economic, environmental, and cultural impact that the resources of the Ohio River Watershed have upon the region.
            The ORWC consists of two cruises from the Gateway Clipper fleet: the “Imagination Cruise” on the Empress for students, parents, and educators, and the “Networker Cruise” on the Majestic for adults.  Over 700 attendees participated in the ORWC cruises in 2010.
            While employed at Stream Restoration Inc., Laurie was the Steering Committee Director for the event as well as a driving force for its success each year.  The ORWC is now in its tenth year.
            Along with her full time employment, Laurie is an active volunteer for several organizations.  Laurie is the founding member of the Washington County Affiliate of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, which was established in 2009.
            Today, Laurie continues to supervise activities of the Washington County Affiliate including fundraising, recruiting volunteers, organizing cleanups and education/outreach events, tracking the budget, and coordinating all Affiliate activities from press releases to the website.  
            Laurie also volunteers for the Chartiers Creek Watershed Association.  She is a Board Member and participates in quarterly water quality testing and biannual macroinvertebrate sampling as well as local outreach and educational events.  During these events, Laurie interacts with stakeholders and assists on projects related to stormwater management, urban sprawl, and illegal dumpsites in order to help restore the watershed.
            Laurie is a part-time staff writer at the Small Town Life and Business News, writing articles relevant to the community on environmental topics such as Marcellus Shale, watershed association updates, cleanups, and other current events within Washington County.
            She is also the Secretary of the League of Women Voters of Washington County and coordinates the Candidate Forums, legislative luncheons, and award receptions with elected officials.
            Laurie is currently a Senior Environmental Specialist with GAI Consultants, Inc. where she conducts research and field applications involving wetlands delineation, ecological field surveys, endangered species surveys, and other environmental due diligence studies. 
            During her career, she has been a great communicator for several organizations, acting as a primary liaison to elected officials, government organizations, business representatives, and citizens on environmental issues.  She has prepared watershed conservation plans and assessments, collected and analyzed data, and been the driving force for several projects. 
            She has also participated in radio media interviews designed to acquaint citizens with the value of watershed conservation plans and other important environmental topics.
            She has conducted initial phases of abandoned mine drainage restoration projects throughout Pennsylvania and has provided a broad array of environmental services including assisting with wetlands planting, plant identification, and benthic macroinvertebrate sampling.  Laurie has also written grant proposals for numerous projects from private, state, and federal funding sources to help restore and protect the environment.
            Maurice K. Goddard Legacy Task Force
            Goal:  Celebrate the accomplishments of Maurice. K. Goddard and rededicate all Pennsylvanian’s to his vision and values for the conservation of our natural resources.
            M.K. Goddard served five Pennsylvania Governor’s as Secretary of Forest and Waters and as the founding Secretary of the Department of Environmental Resources (1955-1979). His legacy as a public servant includes:
-- A commitment to professionalism and civil service;
-- A state park within 25 miles of every Pennsylvanian;
-- A watershed scale approach to water management;
-- Dedicated funding for natural resource conservation – Oil and Gas Fund, Bond Initiatives (Project 500 and Project 70);
-- A profound influence on national conservation policy;
            Projects: Initiatives to build awareness of his legacy and share that legacy of conservation values and good government with all Pennsylvanians through a series of programs, interpretive signs, television, new media, a documentary and involvement in the outdoors.
-- Kickoff the project with a walk on the Goddard  Memorial Trail in Camp Hill where Goddard lived for almost fifty years (September 12, 2009);
-- Provided interpretive panels at 25 State Parks created under his leadership—the 25 is symbolic of his goal of a park within 25 miles of every resident. There were 45 parks added under his leadership;
-- Installed five historic markers at key sites to commemorate his work—In front of Rachel Carson State Office Building (his commitment to public service and professionalism), at Mont Alto Campus of PSU (his influence on forestry and wild and natural areas), at MK Goddard (parks) and Delaware Canal State Parks (Delaware and Susquehanna River Basin Commissions), and one in Camp Hill (resident);
-- Rededicated the MK Goddard Wilderness Area in the Wykoff Run (Elk State Forest) in the PA State Forest;
-- Produced an original documentary on the life of MK Goddard in conjunction with WITF;
-- Held three symposiums on the lessons Goddard’s legacy offers for the future—one that was a sharing of his lessons by peers and employees, the second an environmental forum with a moderated panel of environmental leaders which was taped and televised; the third focused on his life lessons as they could apply to students, and in fact, kicked off the annual Goddard Leadership Symposium at Camp Hill School District;
-- Oversight of an intern partially funded by PA Association of Environmental Professionals.  He successfully completed research that assisted in the production of the documentary;
-- Provided several lectures on the work of Maurice Goddard;
-- Several articles were published about his life/leadership; and
-- Creation of a fact sheet on the life of Goddard.
            Undergoing now: updates to a website that includes a GIS overlay; the dedication of the fourth corner of the Capitol Rotunda in his honor (a goal), a traveling exhibit; leadership lessons.


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