The 24th annual Northeast Environmental Partnership Awards and Dinner was held Thursday at the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. The event honored several dedicated groups and individuals who displayed considerable devotion, leadership, and partnership in the environmental arena in 2014.
The event was hosted by the Northeast Environmental Partners (Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, Pennsylvania DCNR, Pennsylvania DEP, Pennsylvania Environmental Council, PPL Corporation, Procter & Gamble Paper Products Company, and Wilkes University). Dr. David Coppola, President of Keystone College, served as Master of Ceremonies and Shannon Reiter, President of Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful, delivered the keynote address.
“It’s always such a wonderful evening to have so many people together that do so much great environmental work,” said Janet Sweeney, Vice President of PEC.
Michael Bedrin, DEP’s Northeast Regional Director, kicked off an evening of celebrating partnerships. Reiter reinforced the importance of partnering and focused on KPB’s efforts in the region. She also announced Keep America Beautiful’s official affiliation with PEC through a project known as Keep Northeast Pennsylvania Beautiful.
Emily Rinaldi, an Environmental Science major at Keystone College, received the third annual Emerging Environmental Leader Award. Honored for demonstrating leadership, initiative, and dedication to protecting and promoting a healthy environment, Rinaldi, a resident of Lackawanna County, has been an active member in DCNR’s Community Connections to Our Watersheds Program, the Lackawanna Riverfest, the Lackawanna/Wyoming County Envirothon, and the Bluebird Monitoring Program, among other programs.
Bernard J. McGurl, also of Lackawanna County, was awarded the 20th annual Thomas P. Shelburne Environmental Leadership Award. A founding member of the Lackawanna River Corridor Association, McGurl has partnered with numerous organizations to improve water quality and aquatic diversity, create a network of trails, reclaim acres of abandoned mine land, and countless other endeavors.
Five regional organizations were also honored for their efforts:
- The Every Drop Counts! Use a Rain Barrel Project served as an outreach opportunity for the Pike/Wayne Conservation’s partnership. The project brought together over 20 partners and four school districts.
- Lackawanna Valley Trout Unlimited partnered with local organizations in conservation efforts to protect and restore the Lackawanna River, including holding semi-annual river cleanups, conducting a Trout Unlimited Teens program, and starting a women’s fly fish class.
- The Newport Township Community Organization of Luzerne County’s Environmental Recycling Program’s efforts have been a great tool in sustaining the local environment. The recycling program has become an economic and fundraising cornerstone for the organization.
- The Pocono Avian Research Center (PARC) of Monroe County increases awareness of natural resources, namely the native birds and habitats of the region. Through research, education, and partnering with local groups, PARC led service learning projects and workshops.
- The Women and their Woods program, a partnership of the Delaware County Conservancy and Wayne County—designed for an increasing demographic of female forest landowners—fosters a network to form connections and preserve the region’s forests.
“The Northeast Partners Dinner was once again a great success,” said PEC President Davitt Woodwell. “One of the best things about it is the opportunity to showcase the fantastic efforts that so many groups, individuals, and organizations are undertaking in the region.”