WASHINGTON – Volunteer conservationists who contributed more than $5 million in economic benefits to federally-managed lands were honored at the White House today with the 2011 Take Pride in America® National Award.
“The contributions made by the 14 Take Pride in America award winners are a prime example of the President's call to service to enhance and promote America's Great Outdoors,” said Secretary Salazar. “Their hard work and determination to support our public lands demonstrates that caring for our nation's natural and cultural resources helps to strengthen our communities, our public lands, and our commitment to making our country a world leader in conservation.”
The 14 individuals and groups dedicated more than 250,000 hours, building trails and enhancing public lands; restoring and protecting fish and wildlife habitat; caring for and ensuring appropriate use of our cultural and historic landmarks; and expanding outdoor recreation and sustainable tourism. The total economic benefit of the volunteer efforts recognized today is approximately $5,340,000. The lands that benefitted are managed by the Department of the Interior and other federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“In 2010 more than 300,000 volunteers contributed 9.5 million volunteer hours on Department of Interior lands, totaling $192 million in economic benefit,” said Rhea Suh, Assistant Interior Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. “That's an incredible return on investment for the government, all made possible by the enthusiasm and energy of citizens who want to make a difference. Their dedication is admirable.”
Other land managing agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have reported comparable numbers.
The volunteer's actions included protecting loggerhead sea turtles, planting over 1000 trees, recording ancient petroglyphs, building multi-generational and accessible parks, and the building and planting of an outdoor classroom and wetlands, among many other significant achievements. These individuals, groups, and partnerships, representing 6,000 volunteers, were honored at an awards ceremony today at the White House.
“This year there were thousands of volunteers doing incredible things to support the environment,” Interior's Director of Youth in the Great Outdoors Julie Rodriguez said. “We've seen phenomenal achievements from the men, women and young people who gave their time and energy to make this great nation a better place for all to enjoy, and we are extremely grateful for their service.”
Each year, the award winners are selected by a panel of judges from hundreds of qualified nominations representing outstanding examples of stewardship across the country. This year, there are 14 national award winners, from 12 states.
“The amount of work accomplished by this year's award recipients is truly awe-inspiring and reminds us that we can all do our part to be good stewards of our public lands,” Take Pride in America Director Lisa Young said. “They deserve today's recognition and the heartfelt thanks from the entire nation.”
Take Pride in America is a national partnership program authorized by Congress to promote the appreciation and stewardship of public lands, including parks, forests, historic sites, and schools. The Take Pride in America program is administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior for the benefit of all public lands at all levels of government nationwide. Citizen stewards know and count on Take Pride in America for the most comprehensive online portal of public lands volunteer opportunities and for showcasing the most outstanding public lands stewardship activities through the annual national awards ceremony.
National Volunteer Award
National Youth Volunteer Award
Carrie Ann Johnston
National Volunteer Award – Public/Private Partnership
Vecinos de Rio – Mesa Prieta Petroglyth Project
National Volunteer Award – Non-Profit Organization
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
National Volunteer Award – Youth Program
Inspiring Young Emerging Leaders (I-YEL)
National Volunteer Award – School Program
Grove Valley Elementary
National Volunteer Award – Federal Volunteer Program
Channel Islands Naturalist Corps Volunteer Program
National Volunteer Award – Corporation
Close the Loop LLC
National Volunteer Award – State Program
Florida State Park Service and National Forests in Florida
National Volunteer Award – Outstanding Partner
San Diego River Park Foundation
Federal Land Manager – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Federal Land Manager – National Park Service
James E. Miculka
Federal Land Manager – Bureau of Land Management
Federal Land Manager – U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The full listing of award recipients' achievements is online at http://takepride.gov/honors.html.