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Coalition to receive Appalachian Lab’s Johnson Environmental Education Award

March 30th, 2016 by WCBC Radio

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science – Appalachian Laboratory has announced that the Marcellus Shale Stream Monitoring Coalition will receive the 2016 Richard A. Johnson Environment Award. 

Comprised of seven partner organizations (Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Friends of Deep Creek Lake, Mid-Atlantic Council of Trout Unlimited, Mountain Laurel Garden Club, Mountain Ridge High School, Savage River Watershed Association and Youghiogheny River Watershed Association), the coalition will be honored at the 25th anniversary of the Johnson Award next month. 

Barbara Hurd, a member of the Savage River Watershed Association and award-winning writer, will be the event’s guest speaker.  

The coalition unites state, organization and school-based baseline water quality monitoring programs. In June 2011, Maryland DNR initiated monitoring efforts to determine baseline conditions in 12 streams in Garrett County in advance of natural gas development.

Within a 12-month period, community groups like the Savage and Youghiogheny River watershed organizations, Friends of Deep Creek Lake, Mountain Laurel Garden Club and Trout Unlimited received volunteer training on Dickinson College’s water monitoring protocol, and State Farm Insurance funded a program to enable Mountain Ridge High School students to collect baseline stream data. 

Recognizing the need to bring these groups (and their data) under one virtual roof, DNR created the coalition in 2012. Today, high school students and more than 70 citizen-scientist volunteers collect data on 70 streams in Garrett County. In addition to the ongoing education of students and citizen volunteers, MSSMC provides data for public education and access.

The award honors the memory of Johnson, a well-known orthopedic surgeon in the Allegany County area who died in 1990, leaving a legacy of a caring and dedicated physician, family man and naturalist. The Appalachian Lab honors his memory through its promotion of environmental education in Western Maryland and the people who excel in its practice.

Since 2001, award recipients have received a monetary award to benefit their environmental education efforts in addition to a reception in their honor. This year, coalition partners have opted to donate their award of $2,000 to inspire science learning at two local high schools. 

The award will be split between environmental programs led by Tom Kozikowski at Mountain Ridge and Rebecca Kenyon-Sisler at Northern Garrett. 

“It’s a selfless decision on the part of the Coalition,” said Appalachian Lab Director Eric Davidson. “If this award increases, student understanding of the role we play in the health of our planet, its true intent has been realized.”

For more information about the Johnson Award or the Appalachian Laboratory, part of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, please call 301-689-7102.

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