In honor of outstanding contributions to environmental education in western Maryland, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science's Appalachian Laboratory has named Mr. Francis “Champ” Zumbrun as recipient of the 2022 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award. Zumbrun received the award at a special ceremony at the Evergreen Heritage Center on Thursday, August 18.
“Following a two-year pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are delighted to have resumed the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award this year, and we are even more delighted to have presented this year’s award to Francis “Champ” Zumbrun,” said, Dr. David Nelson, Appalachian Laboratory Director and Professor. “The Johnson Award was created to promote quality environmental education in Garrett and Allegany Counties, and through his many continued contributions to the field, Champ consistently demonstrates his commitment to environmental education.”
Zumbrun, whose early life experiences growing up near the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown, RI, inspired him to pursue a career in the environmental field, spent over thirty years with the Maryland Forest Service, retiring in 2009 as Forest Manager and Forest Ranger at Green Ridge State Forest.
Following his retirement, Zumbrun, a Vietnam veteran who spent four years in the US Navy before completing his undergraduate degree in forestry at West Virginia University, has continued to dedicate his talents voluntarily to various environmental education efforts. As a volunteer with Project Learning Tree, he has made significant contributions to a program that has trained over two thousand pre-service teachers at Frostburg State University in environmental education learning strategies. In recent years, Zumbrun has led the Liberty Tree Program, which seeks to educate the public on the historical significance of trees used as important meeting places during colonial times. He has traveled throughout the country presenting programs and planting scions from the last of the original Liberty Trees.
Zumbrun also serves as a volunteer with the Canal Corps Classroom program, providing STEM-based environmental education to visiting K-12 classes, and as a member of the Federal Advisory Commission with the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. He also volunteers on several local boards, including the Evergreen Heritage Center, the Allegany County Forestry Board, and the District Governor’s Cabinet for Lions Clubs of Western Maryland. Zumbrun has authored numerous articles about outdoor recreation, forestry and public lands management and has published books on Green Ridge State Forest and Thomas Cresap.
The Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award provides $2,500 to support further environmental education activities at an organization selected by the winner. The Evergreen Heritage Center was the recipient of Zumbrun’s monetary award. 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 sponsors of this year's program include AES Warrior Run, Allegany College of Maryland, Scarpelli Funeral Home, Walt Disney Company Foundation, and numerous friends.
Recent recipients of the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award include Craig Hartsock (2019) and Liz McDowell (2018). Learn more about the award and past recipients at www.umces.edu/al/johnson-environmental-education-award.