Charles “Charlie” Conklin, outgoing chairman of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay’s Board of Directors, was awarded the 2006 Ellen Fraites Wagner Award by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

“Charlie’s tireless devotion to our environment, and the Bay in particular, is extraordinary,” stated Midgett Parker Jr., chairman of the trust’s Board of Trustees. “In addition to his own hands-on work, his real gift is in encouraging others to get involved. He gives new meaning to the word ‘retirement.’”

Conklin retired from Bethlehem Steel, where he was an engineer and manager, 11 years ago but has since been involved in a host of activities and organizations aimed at preserving land, cleaning waterways and restoring watersheds.

He is a member and past president of the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy and has been involved in both land preservation and large reforestation projects such as the Dulaney Branch tree planting on the old Cloverland Farms property.

Conklin is a member of the Upper Western Shore Tribuary Strategies Team, and was awarded the Bernie Fowler Award in 1999. He is also a member of Baltimore County’s Commission on Environmental Quality and the county’s Soil Conservation District board of supervisors.

As chairman of the Alliance, Conklin has overseen the development of programs such as RestoreCorps, which attracts volunteers to local watershed groups; Builders for the Bay, which focuses on changing local codes and ordinances to reduce stormwater runoff; and Forestry for the Bay, which promotes forest management to improve water quality.

In accepting the award, Conklin predicted that the Bay would see “major and significant improvements in the next four or five years” and not just because of upgrades at wastewater treatment plants and conservation efforts by farmers, but also because of actions by citizen groups.

And, he called for more efforts to educate the public about how the pollution directly effects them, and what they can do about it. “People have to feel like they can go out and make a difference,” Conklin said.

Also recognized by the trust were:

  • Lee Franklin, who teaches third, fourth and fifth grades at Kennard Elementary in Queen Anne’s County, MD, was recognized as Teacher of the Year in the elementary and middle school category. She designed curricula for yearlong ecology and advanced ecology classes that include field work, data collection, water testing and intensive investigation of the Bay’s health. She is credited with developing an extensive recycling program and involving students in an annual raise-and-release program for two diamondback terrapins.
  • Margaret Paul was named Teacher of the Year in the High School category. She teaches environmental science at Towson High School in Baltimore County. She is regarded for her intellect, energy and resourcefulness. She believes that students learn by getting “their hands dirty and their feet wet.” Paul used the Towson High School campus and local communities as training grounds to teach her students about nature, water quality and the health of the Bay. Her students have been involved in projects ranging from discovering ways to enrich soil through composting, to raising horseshoe crabs, building wood duck and bat boxes, to testing the water quality of the Herring Run, a tributary to the Chesapeake Bay on school property.
  • Zainab Nejati, a senior at Poolesville High School, in Boyds, MD, is the third recipient of the annual Honorable Arthur Dorman Scholarship. The scholarship, named in honor of Maryland Sen, Arthur Dorman, recognizes a Maryland student who combines an intense interest in and commitment to the environment and the Chesapeake Bay with an equal commitment to strengthening community awareness by promoting diversity and respect for all individuals.