An avian research coordinator for the long-term bird-banding program at Powdermill Nature Reserve was named a Western Pennsylvania Environmental Award winner.
Lucas W. DeGroote was one of the four winners of the award, presented to organizations and individuals demonstrating leadership, effectiveness and results in making an impact on the environment. A group of independent judges, environmental experts and Pennsylvania Environmental Council staff chose the winners from a list of nominees.
DeGroote, who joined Powdermill in 2012, has expanded regional bird conservation in Western Pennsylvania by forming partnerships and initiating new programs extending throughout North America and the world, according to the environmental council, which sponsors the awards along with Dominion Energy, a diversified energy company.
DeGroote was instrumental in founding the BirdSafe Pittsburgh program to create a bird-friendly city. He was also the force behind the Allegheny Bird Conservation Alliance.
DeGroote leads a team that assesses new formulations of glass or films to help industry develop “birdsmart” glass that is visible as a surface to birds, but still functions as a clear window. Because of his work in this area, seven companies in the United States, Canada and Europe now have bird-safe glass on the market today.
DeGroote could not be reached for comment Monday.
The other winners are Aspinwall Riverfront Park Inc., an 11-acre park that provides public access for fishers and boats to the Allegheny River; Troy Firth, founder and president of the Foundation for Sustainable Forests in Spartansburg, Crawford County, which has protected more than 1,000 acres of sustainable working forests; and Pennsylvania Outdoor Corps, a state-related effort that engaged a young and diverse workforce to be involved in environmental projects. The corps completed projects in 28 state parks, 13 forest districts and seven municipalities throughout western Pennsylvania last year.
Dominion Energy and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council provided $5,000 grants to each winner to be used for an environmental program of their choice.
The environmental council will present a lifetime achievement award to Ron Steffey, former executive director of the Allegheny Valley Land Trust in Kittanning, which owns and maintains the Armstrong and Redbank Valley Trails. Under Steffey’s leadership, 80 miles of the Armstrong and Redbank Valley Trails have been transformed from inactive railroad corridors to extensive trail systems.
The awards will be presented during the Western Pennsylvania Environmental Awards dinner May 22 at The Westin Pittsburgh in downtown Pittsburgh.