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AL Honors Maryland Park Service’s Caroline Blizzard for Raising Environmental Awareness in Western Maryland
The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory presented Maryland Park Service’s Caroline Blizzard its 2011 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award recipient for helping elevate environmental stewardship and understanding throughout her western Maryland community.
Dr. Donald Boesch (left) and Dr. Robert Gardner (right) present Caroline Blizzard a check supporting the work of the Western Garrett County State Park Volunteers.
The award, presented by Appalachian Laboratory Director Robert H. Gardner, recognizes local citizens for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and is presented to Ranger Blizzard for her work engaging visitors at the Deep Creek State Park Discovery Center and her personal contributions to local schools and civic organizations.
“Caroline has set a new high water mark when it comes to engaging others about the need to conserve and protect our natural resources,” says Dr. Gardner. “Her passion and leadership has helped bring the natural world into the lives thousands of local residents and park visitors every year.”
Ranger Blizzard has spent a lifetime helping western Maryland residents and visitors better understand and appreciate nature. Whether through her work as a certified interpretive guide, directing the Deep Creek Lake State Park Discovery Center, or developing the Maryland Department of Natural Resources “Become and Outdoors Woman” program, Caroline has long been a regional leader in the environmental education field.
Since 2004, Caroline has directed the Deep Creek State Park Discovery Center and its interpretive programming and education programs. She and her team have worked hard to make the Center a frequent destination spot and hub for people to enjoy and learn about nature around Deep Creek Lake.
“Caroline is an invaluable asset to our agency, to our State, and to the thousands of visitors to Deep Creek Lake,” says Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary John Griffin, “Through her dedication to the Maryland Park Service and natural resources education, visitors can better relate to – and appreciate – what makes our State unique.”
Caroline’s passion for environmental discovery reaches beyond the boundaries of the State Parks. Her work as a “Monarch Ambassador” has taken her to local schools – where she helped establish Monarch “way stations” where students annually tag and release more than 800 butterflies and learn about their migration – to butterfly sanctuaries in Mexico where she photographs her subjects to create classroom-based lessons back at home. This year, teachers traveled with her to Mexico to directly link the classrooms via internet video, pen pal letters and on-site visits.
Caroline is an avid photographer, and her love of nature is reflected in her photography. Her work can be viewed around the area in various venues, including the Four Storm Artists Gallery, and at local events such as the Autumn Glory Festival’s Heritage Craft Show and Art in the Park. Caroline founded Four Storm Artists Gallery along with her family to feature art inspired by nature and the local Garrett County area. Caroline is also involved with numerous area organizations including the Garrett Natural History Association, Garrett Trails, the American Cancer Society and several local civic and garden clubs.
The award honors the memory of Richard A. Johnson, a well-known orthopedic surgeon in the Allegany County area. He passed away in 1990 leaving a legacy of a caring and dedicated physician, family man and naturalist. The Laboratory honors his memory through its promotion of environmental education and the people who excel in its practice.
The award provides $1,500 to support further environmental education activities, which this year will support the Western Garrett County State Park Volunteers. An endowed fund to support the Johnson Award has been established at the University System of Maryland Foundation. Contributors to the fund include AES Western Maryland Management Co. LLC, Allegheny Power, NewPage Corporation, Mettiki Coal Corporation and numerous private citizens and other organizations.