DNREC awards presented at state fair

July 30, 2019

At the Delaware State Fair July 25, Gov. John Carney and Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin honored individual Delawareans and groups of all ages for their environmental leadership, innovation and dedication.

“This afternoon, we recognized a broad cross-section of Delawareans who contribute to the conservation of our natural resources and the stewardship of our environment,” said Garvin. “We congratulate these volunteers, organizers, photographers, and anglers – conservationists and environmentalists all – for their work that brought us here today, and we look forward to their future contributions.”

Honorees were young environmentalists, individual and group volunteers, winners of the youth fishing tournament, hunting and fishing photo contest winners, and winners of the new Delaware Watersheds Photo Contest, plus Best in Show.

“These awards underscore how every Delawarean can have an impact in protecting and conserving our natural resources, while also raising awareness for environmental stewardship,” Carney said. “I’m also inspired by the award winners’ dedication to making our state a better place to live through their time and talents, and proud to recognize them for their environmental leadership and innovation.”

As second-graders at Dover’s W. Reily Brown Elementary School, young environmentalists Conner Bradley and Lily Gatti, both 8 years old, are leaders on their school’s Eco-Team. They share a passion for the natural environment and serve as peer educators for their classmates. Conner has also taken on independent research projects, such as studying strawberry propagation and soil health. Lily is a strong advocate for composting and keeping the environment trash-free in both her school and community.

Jade Carter, 13, was named Young Environmentalist of the Year in the Middle School category. An eighth-grader at Sussex Academy in Georgetown, Carter founded the first middle school chapter of the Surfrider Foundation in the state, and is currently planning fundraisers and beach cleanups. The Surfrider organization is dedicated to protecting and enjoying the oceans, waves and beaches through volunteer activities. Jade also started a recycling program at her school and has decorated recycling bins to draw attention to their importance.

Cole Palmer, 17, of Greenwood, has been a volunteer stream monitor for six years with the Delaware Nature Society’s Stream Watch, performing monthly testing of five streams in the Mispillion Watershed, and recording more than 18,000 observations and analyses. Cole has also organized several community cleanups, including a DelDOT Adopt-a-Highway effort that collected more than 2,100 pounds of trash. A past Young Environmentalist honoree in partnership with his sister Samantha, Cole is a member of Eagle Scout Troop 116 in Milford and a junior at Delaware State University’s Early College High School, working toward a degree in natural resources for fisheries management.

Special recognition went to sisters Caroline and Isabella Nacchia of Frankford. At ages 6 and 8, and in first and second grade respectively, Caroline and Isabella are already budding entomologists. Caroline is passionate about monarch butterfly conservation, working  each summer since she was 3 to raise monarchs from caterpillars to chrysalis to butterflies. Last summer, she raised about 350 butterflies. As a beekeeper, Isabella understands the importance of bees, is eager to help them, and inspires her peers to do the same. She can identify larva, worker bees (females) and drones (males), and honey, nectar and queen cups, and is comfortable handling the inhabitants of her hives.

DNREC’s Outstanding Volunteers of the Year included Diane Twining, who volunteers 45-50 hours a week in Trap Pond State Park’s main office. Extremely well-informed and helpful with park programs, Twining is dedicated to the educational value of Trap Pond, and genuinely loves the park and its natural resources, embodying all the best qualities of park staff.

With a total of 5.39 pounds of fish caught in Ingrams Pond near Millsboro, Luke Hitchens, 12, of Dagsboro, was the youth fishing tournament Sussex County for the second consecutive year, and third statewide.

Harry Hoch Jr. of Greenwood won the 2018-19 Delaware Hunting Photo Contest for his submission of “Hunting Memories,” featuring his father, Dr. Harry L. Hoch and friend Bill Cole after a successful hunt near Harrington. His photo will appear on the cover of the 2019-20 Delaware Hunting & Trapping Guide.

Delaware Watersheds Photo Contest winners were also recognized.

Local winners in the the Natural Landscapes of Delaware category include Bernard Dennis of Millsboro, first place for “Beautiful Countryside off Wilkins Road in Lincoln.” Third place went to Joe Hengel of Milton for “Gordons Pond Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park.”

In the Native Wildlife of Delaware category, Nancy Hedgespeth of Dagsboro won third place for “Brown Thrasher Defending the Nest from a Black Rat Snake,” taken near Trussum Pond.

In the Agriculture in Delaware category, first place went to Zachary Williams, “Cornfield in Magnolia at Sunset.” Joe Hengel won second place for “Sittin’ Pretty” (Argos Corner). Third place went to  Christine Moore for “Soybean Field in Lincoln.”

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