Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New Awards Program to Recognize High-School Student Environmental Leadership

The Rockfall Foundation has established an annual awards program highlighting youth achievement. The Virginia R. Rollefson Youth Environmental Leadership Awards, named for former foundation Executive Director Virginia R. “Ginny” Rollefson, will recognize Middlesex County high school students who are presently involved with significant programs and projects in areas of natural resource preservation, conservation or development.

The award will include a cash gift for those individuals and/or groups honored, with up to two awards given each year. The application process is open to county students in grades 9-12 beginning on April 22, Earth Day, and will close June 1.

Each year, for more than 30 years, the foundation honors adult individuals and groups to highlight their contributions to the county. The Certificate of Honor is given for outstanding life-long accomplishments in the area of natural resource preservation, conservation or development. Certificates of Appreciation are awarded to recognize significant environmental programs and projects.

Rockfall’s Annual Awards Subcommittee, including members Tom ODell (Chair), Katchen Coley, and Raul deBrigard, worked with county educators to establish criteria and help develop a youth award application process that is thorough yet will mesh well with the rhythms and deadlines of the high school academic year.

“We are indebted to our Youth Award Advisors for their experience, time and enthusiasm,” says ODell “They’ve enabled us to establish a process that is fair and manageable, while offering meaningful recognition for those already providing leadership for our next generation of environmental stewards.”

The Youth Award Advisors are: Rebecca Isaacson, Dept. Head, Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, Middletown Regional Agricultural Science & Technology Center; Oliver Barton, Principal, Old Saybrook High School; Charles Renshaw, retired teacher, Old Saybrook High School.

The winners will be selected and announced in October (in time for early-decision college applications), and the public presentation will be part of Rockfall’s Annual Meeting and Awards ceremony in November 8. Application materials are posted on the foundation’s website

The Rockfall Foundation supports environmental education, conservation programs and planning initiatives in Middlesex County. Established in 1935, it is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations whose mission is to be a catalyst-- bringing people together and supporting organizations to conserve and enhance the county’s natural environment. Rockfall awards grants each year to organizations, schools and municipalities, and continues to hold and manage open space property in the county.

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