AKRON, Ohio - The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park has received one of the highest honors bestowed annually by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Margaret Douglas Medal. The award is for notable service to the cause of conservation education and was presented to the Conservancy at the GCA’s annual meeting in Indianapolis on April 30.
In honoring the Conservancy, the GCA recognized depth of programming and fundraising, calling the Conservancy a “high-performance volunteer association that is a full-fledged partner” with the National Park Service. In addition, the GCA acknowledged the Conservancy’s commitment to innovative environmental education and its dedication to preserving the natural world for future generations. The Akron Garden Club, member of the GCA, nominated the Conservancy for the Margaret Douglas Medal. (www.akrongardenclub.org)
The GCA particularly cited the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center, the premier program managed by the Conservancy. The center draws up to 10,000 children annually to its innovative year-round school and summer camp programs that focus largely on the Cuyahoga Valley watershed. The center’s 500-acre campus is home to trails, ponds, forests and meadows, two dormitories, a dining hall, labs, an art room and a library. An award-winning interdisciplinary curriculum incorporates current academic content standards in math, social studies, language arts and technology. Some $137,000 in scholarships is provided annually to students in need.
“It’s an honor and pleasure to accept this award on behalf of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park,” said Deb Yandala, CEO of the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. “Our long-standing partnership with the National Park Service and exceptional volunteers, dedicated members and generous donors have been a driving force in our success – particularly in the development and growth of our programming and curriculum for the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. We appreciate our partnership with local garden clubs like the Akron Garden Club and again thank the GCA for this prestigious award!”
The Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a friends group dedicated to supporting Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the tenth-most-visited national park, which extends 33,000 acres along 22 miles of the Cuyahoga River between Akron and Cleveland. In 1974, with the help of John F. Seiberling (the GCA 1988 Frances K. Hutchinson Medal recipient), the U.S. Congress created the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, and in 2002 – by another act of Congress – it became a national park. (www.conservancyforcvnp.org)
The Conservancy has approximately 2,700 members and oversees more than 4,000 volunteers, community supporters and advocates who provide more than 140,000 hours of volunteer support. The Conservancy sponsors a wide-array of concerts, art exhibitions, festivals, lectures and dinners each year; handles park rentals; and manages a campground. To accomplish this, the Conservancy raises $1 million annually in philanthropic grants and donations, organizes annual fundraisers, promotes membership and operates two retail stores. The Conservancy is currently spearheading a $10-million endowment campaign to ensure the future and legacy of the park and its trails, called Trails Forever.
The Margaret Douglas Medal originally was presented and endowed by Mrs. Robert D. Sterling, Garden Club of Dublin and Monadnock Garden Club (New Hampshire) to honor Mrs. Walter Douglas, an honorary GCA member. Art deco sculptor Rene P. Chambellan designed the medal in 1952. Previous winners include author and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1990), documentary filmmaker Bill Kurtis (1997) and horticultural consultant and educator Katy Moss Warner (2002).
Two other Margaret Douglas medalists have been from Akron – Wendell LaDue in 1983 and PPG Industries Inc. in 2001, both nominated by The Akron Garden Club. LaDue was honored for his contributions to environmental protection and maintenance of quality of life through nationally recognized work in the field of water conservation and supply. PPG Industries was recognized for creating a model natural wildlife habitat by reclaiming 300 acres made barren by 84 years of synthetic soda ash production.
The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 199 clubs with more than 17,500 members who devote their energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the nation. Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement. Each year, the GCA gives national awards to recognize the outstanding achievement of conservationists, educators, environmentalists, flower arrangers, horticulturists, landscape designers and writers who have made significant contributions to their fields. (www.gcamerica.org)
Beth Brumbaugh, APR
Akron Garden Club
Ralph Davila, APR
Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park
(330) 657-2909 ext 109