Johnson Environmental Education Award

UMCES Appalachian Lab Celebrates Johnson Award’s 25th Anniversary and Honors Marcellus Shale Stream Monitoring Coalition at April 28 Event: Barbara Johnson Presented with Ambassador Award

“It always amazes me that there seems to be an unending supply of western Marylanders who deserve to be recognized for the excellence of their contributions in environmental education,” said University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) Director Dr. Donald Boesch as he kicked off the 25thAnniversary of the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Awards. Boesch, in his 26th year as UMCES president, was overwhelmed by both the crowd of more than 120 attendees and the dedication of the awardees.

The Johnson Award recognized the contributions of the seven groups comprising the Marcellus Shale Stream Monitoring Coalition or MSSMC: the 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. With more than 40 water monitor volunteers present, Michael Kashiwagi, a biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Monitoring and Assessment of Non-Tidal Wetlands Division, accepted the award from UMCES Appalachian Laboratory Director Dr. Eric Davidson, and commendations from Senators Mikulski and Cardin and Congressman Delaney, as presented by Julianna Albowicz and Joseph Montano.

MSSMC partners donated their monetary award to inspire science learning at two local high schools. Students Morgan Edwards and Molly Offstein accepted a check for $1,000 on behalf of Mountain Ridge High School, and Ben Beeman and Katie Carpenter accepted a check for $1,000 on behalf of Northern Garrett High School.

Barbara Hurd, the evening’s guest speaker and renowned author, challenged the attendees “to find ways that we here, in this Western Maryland community, can work to make story-telling a more viable bridge between the arts and sciences.” She offered hopeful avenues for maintaining “the Integrity of the science while infusing it with human emotions.” (Her remarks and handout can be found below.)

In a special surprise, lab faculty and staff celebrated the volunteer efforts of Barbara Johnson. Dr. Ray Morgan, Appalachian Laboratory professor emeritus, presented Johnson with a special commendation from Governor Larry Hogan and UMCES-AL’s very first Ambassador Award. With many members of Johnson’s family present, Morgan thanked Johnson for her decades of volunteer service, calling her the “laboratory’s best kept secret.” Mark Widmyer, Governor Hogan’s Western Maryland representative, was also in attendance. 

Through corporate sponsorships and individual donations, over $11,000 was raised to support the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award Endowment Fund and event. The Johnson Endowment Fund provides annual income to be given to an Allegany or Garrett County educator, group, or project to enhance their environmental education efforts.