Northeast PA Environmental Partners Announce 2017 Award Winners

The Northeast PA Environmental Partners Wednesday announced the winners of its 2017 awards.  The winners will be recognized at a special awards banquet on October 26 at the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Wilkes-Barre.

The keynote speaker for the event will be DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn and the emcee is Don Jacobs of WNEP’s Pennsylvania Outdoor Life.

Environmental Partnership Awards

Recipients of the 27th annual Environmental Partnership Awards are—

-- Paul Bechtel, Lackawanna County, for his commitment to partnering with numerous organizations on projects to improve the environment of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Bechtel consistently goes above and beyond in his activities including the design and construction of Lackawanna Heritage Valley's Nay Aug Avenue Natural Play Area and the design and installation of a system of rain gardens at the Immaculate Heart of Mary campus.

-- Jeffrey Fleming, Lackawanna County, for his countless hours of volunteering and partnering with the D&H Rail Trail and the Countryside Conservancy Trolley Trail. Fleming has been an active committee member for both organizations and participated in numerous site cleanups, planning meetings, and student volunteer projects, he is often seen monitoring the trails for issues and is a goodwill ambassador for both trails.

-- Tom Kashatus, Luzerne County, for his partnership efforts with individuals, businesses, volunteer organizations, and public service entities. Kashatus initiated an environmental recycling program that not only keeps valuable metals from being discarded in local landfills, but turns these metals into funds which help sustain the Newport Township Community Organization so they can offer numerous programs and activities for area residents.

-- Gary Leander, Luzerne County, for his countless hours of volunteer work and partnering to sustain and expand the Greater Hazleton Rails to Trails. Leander is involved in all aspects of this trail including building and maintaining it, conducting environmental monitoring and remediation of a stream that flows along the trail, coordinating volunteer efforts and promoting and educating the community about the trail.

-- Suskie Bassmasters, Luzerne County, for their partnership efforts and dedication to improving public access and use of the Susquehanna River Watershed by promoting environmental protection and responsible use of the river, its wetlands, and wildlife resources. The Suskie Bassmasters have facilitated the installation of a 2-lane boat launch and canoe/kayak launch at Nesbitt park, installed a paved parking lot at Nesbitt Park with wetland mitigation, provided river access to disaster recovery officials during the flooding in 2011, and most recently purchased and installed solar lighting in the parking lot and boat launch area.

-- University of Scranton Sustainability Office, Lackawanna County, for their partnerships with organizations on numerous community minded projects such as Bike Scranton, a free bike share program in the City of Scranton, a food composting program, and a community garden. The community garden boasts a diverse group of partners that plant, maintain and harvest the garden. In 2016, they donated over 600 pounds of food to the on-campus Leahy Health Center.

Emerging Leader Award

The Emerging Environmental Leader Award will be presented to Benjamin Oswald, Luzerne County, for demonstrating leadership, initiation, and dedication to protecting and promoting a healthy environment.

Oswald is currently a student at the Hazleton Area Academy of the Sciences. In addition to his rigorous academic course work, and also participates in the school's ecology club and Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science.

In the ecology club, he took the initiative to plan and execute a recycling program at the school and in PJAS he has competed both at the regional and state level. He also is a member of the National Honor Society and Future Business Leaders of America.

Oswald is very active in the community, he serves as the Conyngham Junior Councilman in the Borough of Conyngham, is an active Boy Scout who has served various leadership positions, and has attained the rank of Eagle Scout.

Thomas P. Shelburne Leadership Award

The 23rd Annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award will be presented to Dennis DeMara, Carbon County. DeMara is being honored for his years of dedication and commitment to the environment.

For more than 40 years, DeMara has been a strong advocate in the conservation and outdoor recreation work that has made northeastern Pennsylvania a special, beautiful and scenic part of the Commonwealth.

DeMara holds a long-standing connection to the local conservation community. During his career as the County Parks Director for Carbon County, he was instrumental in bringing state-of-the-art facilitates and nationally recognized programs to the local community. ‘

DeMara had a vision for the County’s Mauch Chunk Lake Park and to achieve this vision he and his staff engaged with the PA Conservation Corp, to provide young men and women the opportunity to learn a trade while making improvements at the park.

This partnership earned the park the Top Conservation Youth Service Corp award and brought the park national recognition as the National Watershed of the Year due to the conservation and outdoor recreation projects completed.

Also, while at the County, DeMara spurred an interest and assisted in the establishment of the Carbon County Environmental Education Center and worked to create the 18-mile Switchback Gravity Railroad Trail in 1977, one of the first rail-to-trails projects in the country.

After serving as Parks Director for 24 years, DeMara continued to serve the community through his leadership as Natural Resource Supervisor with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

For more than 13 years, he served a 14-county area in northeastern Pennsylvania and quickly saw the opportunity for the numerous conservation entities serving northeast Pennsylvania to work more closely together.

He was instrumental in forming formal collaborations that, due to his leadership, resulted in the protection of more than 30,000 acres of open space and the implementation of countless community-related programs, many of which continue to this day.

These are just some of the notable successes that make DeMara a leader in the conservation community.

He continues to spark new, creative ways for conservation and environmental education to be a priority in the local community, holding true to the belief that the working together makes a community stronger.

Northeast Environmental Partners

The Northeast Environmental Partners include: Northeastern PA Alliance, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Department of Environmental Protection, PA Environmental Council, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, and Wilkes University.

For more information on the awards dinner or to receive an invitation, please contact PEC at 570-718-6507.

For more information on programs, initiatives and special events, visit the PA Environmental Council website, visit the PEC Blog, follow PEC on Twitter or Like PEC on Facebook.  Visit PEC’s Audio Room for the latest podcasts.  Click Here to receive regular updates from PEC.

[Posted: August 17, 2017]


    Go To Next Article

Return to This PA Environment Digest's Main Page