The Chesapeake Bay Foundation recently honored Bay Journal editor Karl Blankenship and Bern Sweeney, director of the Stroud Water Research Center in Chester County, PA, with Lifetime Achievement Awards. The foundation also gave Bill Bechtel, Selinsgrove, PA, high school environmental science teacher, its 2006 Educator of the Year Award; and the Sayre family of Waffle Hill Farm in Harford County, MD, its 2006 Conservationist of the Year Award
“These awardees are truly examples of individuals who make a difference in the lives of others,” CBF President William C. Baker said. “We honor them for their substantial contributions toward improving the quality of our environment.”
Blankenship and Sweeney are only the fourth and fifth individuals to receive the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Sweeney has been a leader in stream ecosystem research and education for decades. He is a former vice-president and curator for the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia and president of the North American Benthological Society. Sweeney also serves on a number of state and federal committees which deal with developing and implementing groundbreaking science relating to streams and riparian ecosystems. Currently, he is assessing the impact of acid mine drainage streams’ abilities to process nutrients. His findings are providing the critical link between Pennsylvania’s two leading causes of stream impairment.
Bechtel’s teaching involves the science of healthy aquatic systems with a strong philosophy emphasizing personal responsibility and action. His students get out of the classroom, study the Susquehanna River, collect data, track rainwater, and even map where farm animals have access to local waters. Each of his students prepares a personal “Chesapeake Bay Action Project,” and engages in stream cleanups, habitat restoration, and even fund-raising to conduct their projects. He is a past recipient of the Snyder County (PA) Conservation District Conservation Educator of the Year.
Lawrason Sayre and his son, Ned, operate Waffle Hill Farm, a 400-acre stretch in the Lower Deer Creek watershed, eight miles from the Bay. The farm—protected under Harford County Agricultural Preservation—raises 300 head of Angus cattle using management intensive grazing. The Sayres achieve optimal production by relying almost entirely on their pastures and controlling the time and area in which the herd grazes. This has let the farm double its production with less labor, less expense and a higher net return. In addition, the manure is more efficiently recycled as fertilizer, and full grass coverage provides an effective filter for surface water, minimizing the herd’s impact on streams and creeks.