Appalachian Laboratory

Robert Miller

2009 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award Recipient

Robert Miller Honored for Lifelong Work Educating Western Marylanders about the Environment

Photo of Robert Miller accepting 2009 Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award from Laboratory Director, Robert H. Gardner.

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science Appalachian Laboratory honored Lonaconing’s Robert Miller with the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award at a ceremony Thursday evening in Frostburg.

The award, presented by Appalachian Laboratory Director Robert H. Gardner, recognizes local citizens for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and is presented to Miller for introducing thousands of western Maryland’s children and adults to the wonders of the natural world while encouraging them to take an active role in protecting the area’s environmental future.

“Over the years, Bob has helped western Marylanders learn about and care for the great outdoors through his work as a teacher, school administrator and environmental advocate,” said Dr. Gardner. “The sense of environmental stewardship he has instilled throughout western Maryland will reverberate through our communities for years to come.”

Born and raised in the George’s Creek Watershed, Mr. Miller has had a lifelong love for the outdoors. As a child, he learned an appreciation of the outdoors from his father through many hours of hunting and fishing. Mr. Miller’s career in education began with teaching sixth grade at Cumberland’s East Side Elementary School where he emphasized environmental education in his classroom and initiated nature-based field trips for his students. As his career progressed, Mr. Miller became Principal of George’s Creek Elementary School where he remained until 1988 when he transferred and completed his career at Cresaptown Elementary School in 1989. As an active retiree, Mr. Miller has continued to be involved in local environmental programs and helped establish the George’s Creek Watershed Association, where he currently serves on its Board of Directors.

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 $2,000 to support further environmental education activities, which this year will support the George’s Creek Watershed Association. 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, MeadWestvaco (NewPage Corporation), Mettiki Coal Corporation and numerous private citizens and other organizations.

Past recipients of the Richard A. Johnson Environmental Education Award include: former Times-News columnist Ken Hodgdon (1991); Frostburg State University professor Emeritus Don Emerson (1991); retired teacher Nan Livingston (1992); retired teacher Charles Strauss Sr. (1993); former Appalachian Laboratory Director Kent Fuller (1996); Department of Natural Resources project manager Bernard Zlomek (2001); Hickory Environmental Education Center coordinator Joseph Winters (2002); former Frostburg State University Biology Department Head Melvin Brown (2003); Beall High School Environmental Educator Kenneth Baxter (2004); Allegany High School Ecology Club mentor Alan Hammond (2005); Route 40 Elementary School Principal Patrick Delaney (2006); Garrett College Professor Kevin Dodge (2007); and, Maryland Park Service’s Jeffrey Ruark (2007).

Founded in 1961, the Appalachian Laboratory is a center for research on terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems, including how these ecosystems function within the larger context of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and how human activity may influence these ecosystems and effect ecosystem health and sustainability on local, regional and global scales. Located in the mountains of western Maryland, the Appalachian Laboratory is one of three laboratories of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science.