WASHINGTON D.C. — Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett today recognized the 2007 Take Pride in America National Award recipients at an awards ceremony in Washington, D.C. The individuals and groups from across the country were acknowledged for their outstanding contributions to local, state and federal public lands. This year, there were 18 National Award winners representing 12 states and the District of Columbia.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Ridge Rangers Volunteer Program was recognized in the State Volunteer Program category for ensuring the safety of some of Florida’s most rare and endangered plant and animal species that reside on the Lake Wales Ridge. The Rangers completed over 1,000 hours of service in forty-six group projects. Their work encouraged the development of independent stewardship projects along the ridge. These projects involved the maintenance of Disc Dove fields, data collection, monitoring Bluebird Boxes, trash removal and trail maintenance. The Ridge Rangers also focus on Feral Hog control and removal; the Feral Hog is non-native to Florida, and is extremely destructive. The Rangers work hard to spread information about the Ridge through community outreach programs. They participated in three community festivals, relaying the importance of the 100 mile long ridge to the public. The Rangers removed invasive plants from the area, which threaten to cripple area ecosystems, and planted native trees, shrubs and grasses in their place. Hundreds of tons of trash have been removed from the Lake Wales Ridge, improving public access to the nature preserves. The Ridge Rangers special interest in the state of Florida has resulted in the health and positive growth of its ecosystem.
“These are extraordinary individuals and organizations who have tapped into the power of volunteerism to enhance our public lands and improve the experiences of visitors to those lands,” Deputy Secretary Scarlett said.
USA Freedom Corps Acting Director Kathy Wills Wright and Take Pride in America Executive Director Heather Roebke joined Deputy Secretary Scarlett in presenting the awards and Clint Eastwood, Take Pride spokesman, addressed the audience via a recorded video message.
The annual Take Pride in America national awards recognize specific volunteer projects and efforts in a variety of categories, including youth organization, corporation, public/ private partnership and individual, among others. These awards recognize events, projects and programs targeted at maintaining or enhancing public lands such as parks, rivers, wildlife refuges, cultural and historic sites, local playgrounds and other recreation areas.
Federal land managers were honored for innovative approaches to recruiting volunteers and cultivating their volunteer programs. This year’s awardees represent the National Park Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation.
The Student Conservation Association was also recognized for their support of Take Pride. SCA is working to build the next generation of conservation leaders through internships and volunteer projects. The SCA recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
2007 Take Pride in America National Award Winners by Category.
- Carolle and Glenn Aldinger; Chincoteague, VA
- Marlene M. Lugg; Winnetka, CA
- James C. Thompson; Ardmore, OK
- The Friends of Hunting Island State Park, Inc. Loggerhead Sea Turtle Conservation Project; Saint Helena Island, SC
- California Golden Trout Restoration Program; Golden Trout Wilderness, CA
- Antietam National Battlefield Volunteers; Sharpsburg, MD
- Wetlands Education Team; West Geauga Middle School, Chesterland, OH
- The Power Washers of North America; Quakertown, PA
State Event / Program
- Lake Wales Ridge Rangers; Lake Placid, FL
Local Government Event
- City of Clifton Clean Communities Program; Clifton, NJ
Youth / Youth Group
- Riley’s Lockhouse Docents; Hagerstown, MD
- Arapahoe and Aurora Colorado Stakes of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Federal Land Manager
- Kevin D. Brandt, Superintendent, Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park, National Park Service; Hagerstown, MD
- Tara Whitsel, Park Ranger, Raystown Lake, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Hesston, PA
- Steve Brimm, Project Leader, D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Spearfish, SD
- Thomas M. Pogacnik, Wild Horse and Burro Program Manager, California State Office, Bureau of Land Management; Sacramento, CA
- Jack Simes, External Coordination Manager, Lower Colorado Region, Yuma Area Office, Bureau of Reclamation: Yuma, AZ
Outstanding Take Pride Supporter
- Student Conservation Association