Annie Stark named 2023 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award Winner

August 28, 2023
2023 Richard Johnson Environmental Education Award winner Annie Stark with her mentor 2005 winner Alan Hammond

In honor of outstanding contributions to environmental education in western Maryland, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory has named Annie Stark as recipient of the 2023 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award.  Stark received the award at a special ceremony at the Appalachian Laboratory on Thursday, August 24, 2023.

“The Richard Johnson Environmental Education Award recognizes those in our community who excel in the practice of environmental education,” said Dr. David Nelson, Appalachian Laboratory Professor and Director.  “Annie Stark, who was nominated by a number of her past students and their families, exemplifies the essence of this award, and we’re very pleased to be presenting it to her eighteen years after her mentor, Alan Hammond, received it.”

Annie Stark is an environmental science teacher at Allegany High School in Cumberland, Maryland. Her fascination with nature developed at a young age while watching Outdoors Maryland with her dad and exploring the woods behind her house, and that fascination deepened through Chesapeake Bay field trips and Envirothon events led by her teacher and mentor Alan Hammond. Through high school and college, Stark gained valuable experience and mentorship in environmental science and education careers while working at Rocky Gap and Deep Creek Lake State parks.  

Annie Stark with members of the Johnson Family and Appalachian Laboratory Director David Nelson. Pictured left to right: Christopher Johnson, Marta Johnson Fiscus, Barbara Johnson, Annie Stark, Adron Fiscus, Julian Fiscus, David Nelson

For the last sixteen years, Stark has taught a variety of biology, environmental science, agriculture, natural resource, and animal science courses in the public school system. She has served as a Maryland Special Olympics coach, Allegany High School Envirothon coach, and Allegany High School FFA advisor. A Nationally Board Certified teacher, Stark holds a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) and a bachelor's in psychology and biology from Frostburg State University. She continues to collaborate actively with the Maryland Park Service and other institutions and agencies throughout the state in support of student learning.

The Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award provides $2,500 to support further environmental education activities at an organization selected by the winner. This year’s award will support Stark’s environmental education initiatives at Allegany High School. The endowment supporting the award was made possible through the generous support of AES Warrior Run, Alliance Resource Partners (Mettiki Coal), First Energy, and numerous other donors over the past two decades. Generous donors to this year's program include AES Warrior Run, Walt Disney Company Foundation, and numerous friends. A committee of past winners and community members reviews nominations and selects winners.

Recent recipients of the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award include Francis “Champ” Zumbrun (2022) Craig Hartsock (2019) and Liz McDowell (2018). To learn more about the award and past recipients, contact Rhonda Schwinabart, Coordinator of Outreach, at 301-689-7102 or or visit our Richard Johnson Environmental Education Award page