Nomination period is now open.
MDE is a proud co-sponsor of the annual Tawes Award for a Clean Environment. The annual statewide environmental recognition program seeks to involve youth, adults and private and public organizations in the restoration and protection of Maryland's natural resources. Any individual, civic, community or non-profit entity that has demonstrated outstanding efforts to enhance Maryland's environment over a period of time or with a single project may be nominated. The Maryland Petrolem Council will donate $300 each in the names of the Tawes youth and adult award winners to the non-profit group of their choice.
MDE also co-sponsors the James B. Coulter Government Employee Award. This award recognizes a government employee who goes above and beyond their assigned duties in efforts to improve Maryland's environment.
Past project winners have included community clean-ups, school ecology or beautification projects, recycling, prevention and control of hazardous materials, waste reduction and other innovative environmental enhancements.
The Tawes Award, now celebrating its 38th year of recognizing outstanding efforts to enhance Maryland’s environment, is named after the late Governor J. Millard Tawes (1959-1967), the first secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.
The James B. Coulter Government Employee Award, which recognizes the environmental contributions of government employees, was created in 2005 and is named in honor of former Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources James B. Coulter.
The Maryland Petroleum Council and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are partners with MDE in support of the Tawes and the James B. Coulter Government Employee Awards.
The nomination period for the Tawes and Coulter awards are open February through April. Nominations can be submitted via email to: TAWES.AWARD@maryland.gov or by mail to: Maryland Department of the Environment, Office of Communications, 1800 Washington Boulevard, 7th Floor, Baltimore, Maryland 21230, Attention: Adrienne Diaczok - Tawes Awards.
View memories from the past 35 years of the Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment.
Bill Tong developed a fishery science education program for Clarksville Middle School. By creating community partnerships and recruiting his fellow classmates to participate, the project has helped raise rainbow trout to stock the Patuxent River this spring. Bill plans to share his program with other middle schools in Howard County to educate students on ecology, waste reduction, environmental beautification and our local watersheds.
In less than eight years, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, conceived by Timothy Junkin, has grown to a team of advocates working at every level to reduce pollution entering local waterways, and restore and protect the rivers of the Eastern Shore’s Midshore region. Under Tim’s leadership, Conservancy staff, numerous experts, community members, and volunteers are aggressively restoring and preserving rivers.
In addition to her assigned duties, Meredith Andrasik takes on the work of deployed staff members. She has coordinated the repair, replacement and reporting of all Maryland National Guard above-ground and underground storage tanks. She also has implemented a closed loop used oil recycling program at Maryland National Guard facilities statewide.
Fountaindale Elementary School has put enormous effort and work into building an innovative on-campus environmental studies area. They have expanded their wetland area, helped stabilize the Hamilton Run (a tributary of Antietam Creek) and offer a free summer STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics Education) camp for students.
John Long began cleaning up Bread and Cheese Creek in 2009 with 40 friends and family. His enthusiasm and leadership have helped the group grow and extend its reach, partnering with local groups to clean area parks, streams, neighborhoods, historical monuments and public lands in Baltimore County. He coordinates over 12 cleanups annually with an average of 100 volunteers per event.
Gregory Sonberg has spent nearly 40 years working for the State of Maryland to protect and restore the quality of our state’s natural resources and has dedicated himself to serving Maryland’s businesses and citizens. He began his work at the Department of Natural Resources in 1976 and is now the division chief within the Oil Control Program at the Maryland Department of the Environment. Over his career he has been a key advisor for many aspects of the Maryland’s oil industry and has worked tirelessly to keep it one of the best and safest in the nation.
Northern Garrett High School students were honored for their achievements with the Cove Run Brook Trout stream restoration project – a partnership between the students and the local community including private, public and governmental sectors. With grant money, students were able to install fencing to create a buffer on both sides of the stream, plant 160 trees and seedlings, and remove invasive plant species to help with the establishment of the planted trees and shrubs. As a result of their efforts, student-led water quality collection data showed that the health of the stream improved.
The Boonsboro Environmental Commission promotes a healthy environment through sound conservation and sustainable practices, encouraging responsible waste management and energy and resource conservation. The commission works to protect the health and well-being of the citizens of Boonsboro. The Commission was recognized for several projects they initiated including: facilitating energy audits on Town buildings, obtaining technical assistance from the University of Maryland to help develop a Storm Water Management Program for Boonsboro, and assisting with the Town-wide bulk trash and recycling clean-up, and a stream buffer planting of 279 trees in Shafer Park .
Mr. Ulm was recognized for the guidance and support provided to the citizens of Maryland and the regulated petroleum community of Maryland through his work with Office of Maryland Comptroller's Motor Fuel Tax Division. Additionally, as a member of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Oil, his expertise in motor fuels and the development of regulations has been instrumental in assisting MDE in the development of regulations for several programs. By sharing his knowledge and his experience he has assisted the State in staying at the forefront of the protection of Maryland's air and water resources.
As part of his Eagle Scout Leadership project, Nathan Hirtle completed an environmental restoration project in the Patapsco watershed.
He led efforts to plant more than 3,000 trees near the Liberty Reservoir to benefit water quality. Nathan has also participated in
environment-related activities that include public outreach and teaching environmental leadership to peers. He is also an outstanding
student and a participant in the Maryland Envirothon. He intends to pursue a career in environmental science.
Anthony Thim volunteers as the Deputy Chairman of the Maryland Ad Hoc Committee on Oil. He has also chaired several regulatory review groups, spending hours of his personal time drafting standards and guidance documents and providing support and direction regarding regulations.
Mike Frank has more than 19 years of service and experience in protecting Maryland's environment, including working with small businesses and residential communities to maintain compliance and cleanup of oil spills. He also serves as the State's lead investigator to identify sources and responsible parties of oil spills, saving the State and Maryland taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs.
Catonsville Elementary School in Baltimore County hosted an environmental festival that brought together local businesses, organizations, State agencies and families to learn about and promote environmental awareness. While working to achieve Maryland Green School status, Catonsville Elementary students are encouraged to take earth-healthy transportation such as walking or bicycling on the second Wednesday of each month and to recycle. Students also have taken part in plantings of native species of vegetation on school grounds.
Kolby and her students at Princess Anne Elementary, in conjunction with DNR, chose to improve the Bay’s health through oyster gardening. The students are raising 1,000 baby oysters to maturity at Janes Island State Park in Somerset County. Upon completion of the project, the oysters will be relocated to the first official and protected oyster reef at the park. Taking their project one step further, Kolbly and her students set up a "Bayraiser" webpage, raising more than $350 that will be donated to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. The money will go towards building oyster reefs in the Bay.
As project manager for the Maydale Conservation Park Stream Restoration Project in Colesville, Stephen was responsible for replacing a failing fish ladder to promote fish migration upstream, stabilizing eroded stream banks and replacing multiple pedestrian trail stream crossings with a single crossing. He was also involved in the dredging of Lake Needwood in Rock Creek Regional Park and restoring streams in Northwest Golf Course in Silver Spring.
Youth Action Corps is a Frederick-based program where middle and high school students plan and implement learning service projects, with the environment as an area of focus. YAC projects have included planting trees and flowers, collecting trash, and helping with a recycling education project.
Standard Solar installed Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the Rockville Blades Ice Arena, helping to reduce the need for traditional sources of energy and lessening the need for fossil fuel energy production.
Paul Kazyak of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources won the James B. Coulter Government Employee Award. Mr. Kazyak played a key role in the development and implementation of DNR’s Maryland Biological Stream Survey and also formed the Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew 202, which educates high school students in environmental science.
The Tawes Youth Award winner, the Greenanators from Sunset Elementary School in Pasadena, Anne Arundel County organized a school-wide recycling program. The Greenanators coordinated an assembly where they instructed their peers on how to recycle in the classroom and cafeteria, explained the benefits of reusable containers in their packed lunches, suggested healthy snacks to eat, and they collected pop tops for the Ronald McDonald House throughout the year. The Greenanators were awarded a Chesapeake Bay Trust grant that they used to purchase and install rain barrels in the schoolyard, and they have planted flowers and harvested seeds, built bird houses and feeders, and organized Earth Day celebrations. Currently, The Greenanators are producing a video to demonstrate how everyone can conserve water, energy, and waste at home with a slogan to “Conserve 10 percent in 2010.”
Stephen Hult is the winner of the Tawes Adult Award. Mr. Hult is currently the Secretary and Chair of the Erosion Committee of the Anne Arundel County’s London Towne Property Owners Association. The Association has installed over half a mile of “living shoreline,” which uses natural habitat elements, such as marsh, rather then hard bulkhead or riprap revetment, to protect shorelines from erosions. Living shorelines act as a “filter” to trap and reduce pollution, provide critical habitat for species, and reduce erosion and flooding. Living shorelines are also an adaptation measure recommended by Maryland’s Climate Change Commission to reduce the risk of rising shorelines caused by global warming. Mr. Hult has led the installation of six of these living shorelines, encompassing about 15 percent of the entire shoreline owned by the community. He has convinced the community association board to contribute a sizeable percentage of their budget and obtained numerous grants from the Chesapeake Bay Trust, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Resource Center, the National Fish and Wildlife Center, and Unity Gardens to fund the project. Currently Mr. Hult is “tutoring” other communities on how to apply for grants and how to install the living shoreline.
Mark Ecker, MDE’s Water Management Compliance Program Compliance Specialist who lives in Smithsburg, Washington County, received the James B. Coulter Government Employee Award for his work as a government employee. Mr. Ecker has been with MDE for nearly 25 years, and his responsibilities as an inspector include erosion and sediment control, stormwater management, stormwater discharges associated with construction activities, waterway construction, non-tidal wetland impacts, and all citizen complaints related to water quality. Mr. Ecker is an extremely knowledgeable and detailed-oriented team player who puts environmental protection ahead of personal interests, and who is an excellent communicator able to work with all parties, from lawyers to laborers. Mr. Ecker’s work on inspection and enforcement of water quality issues is directly responsible for eliminating the potential for large amounts of sediment and pollutants from entering Maryland waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Some of the complex projects he has overseen include the Food and Drug Administration’s White Oak facility, the National Naval Academy Medical Center, and the Intercounty Connector.
Tawes Youth Award winner, the Green Valley Earthology Club from Green Valley Elementary School in Frederick County, first established a successful paper recycling program at the school and then brought recycling of aluminum cans and plastic bottles to large school events. The students created a native plant garden to attract butterflies with a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and are now determining how to stabilize a rapidly eroding hill. Through these activities, the students learn about setting goals, defining responsibilities, prioritizing and assigning tasks, taking action, and assessing accomplishments.
The Dorchester County Resource Protection and Development Corporation (SLEG) is the winner of the Tawes Adult Award. Incorporated in 1967, SLEG is leading the effort to address shoreline erosion in Dorchester County. As a result of their efforts Maryland created the State of Maryland Shore Erosion Task Force, which issued a report outlining steps to protect Maryland's shorelines. The creation of Dorchester County's Shoreline Erosion Structure Tax Credit, led by SLEG, provides homeowners with assistance to install approved mechanisms to control erosion. SLEG is also working with the County to ensure that low-lying roads are improved to withstand constant attacks from wind and wave action to facilitate movement on and off Dorchester County's islands.
Dan Savino, physics teacher for Poolesville High School’s Global Ecology Magnet Program, received the James B. Coulter Government Employee Award. Mr. Savino’s field-based program incorporates environmental issues into science and social studies classes to create educational opportunities and develop an appreciation for the natural world. Mr. Savino uses the environment as a context for teaching physics, including using beaver lodges to teach engineering, using local creeks to teach fluid dynamics, and using canoes in the fast-moving Potomac River to teach bouyancy and maneuverability. Mr. Savino also uses the maple sugar production process to teach plant vascular structure and gas pressure laws. Mr. Savino sets a great example for his students by organizing a trash clean-up for the Town of Poolesville and biking to work
Alex Cubbage and Jack Fitzgerald received special certificates for their commitment to promoting recycling at Cape St. Claire Elementary School in Annapolis.
Edward Sinnes, of Charles County, is a junior from La Plata High School. Mr. Sinnes is active in Boy Scouts and has nearly completed Eagle Scout requirements. He participated in the Izaak Walton League’s restoration and creation of natural habitats and environmental improvements at the Waldorf Izaak Walton League property. Mr. Sinnes is a three-year member of the La Plata High School Envirothon Team and his team has won the county competition in his first two years at the school. He is a student representative on the Southern Maryland Branch of Resources Conservation and Development Board. Mr. Sinnes’s science fair projects included family composting, chemical versus natural fertilizer, comparison of fertilizer components, and helping with the family organic garden.
Jeffery A. Grills is the co-director of Frederick County Public School’s Earth and Space Science Laboratory. Mr. Grills spent four years developing the South Frederick Arboretum and Educational Walkway Project with DNR. The Arboretum and Educational Walkway is a two-acre interpretive walkway with 200 native species trees and native rocks. The walkway is located at Lincoln Elementary School.
Ellen Jackson and Barbara Brown did geology work following the release of more than 26,000 gallons of gasoline at the Jacksonville Exxon in Baltimore County, in a sensitive groundwater use area. Ms. Jackson and Ms. Brown’s quick response and oversight were important to obtaining key evidence for enforcement actions and their expertise helped to control and to contain the release. After long evenings and weekend hours on this intensely scrutinized case, Ms. Jackson and Ms. Brown were able to reassure the public, protect private wells, oversee the installation of over 300 monitoring wells and ensure placement of a complex recovery system.
Sara Flowe and Samantha Morrow, two Severna Park High School seniors and members of the High School Leadership Institute co-chaired the Senior Environmental Project were awarded in the youth category. By forming the Shipley’s Choice Elementary School environmental club, over 60 elementary school students, self-named “Nature Nuts,” participated in a variety of activities. They learned about soil, air and water pollution, energy needs, endangered species and their role in solving environmental problems.
Mr. Gabler established two websites with his own resources, used by communities in Harford and Baltimore counties to track and share information regarding releases from underground storage tanks within their communities. His first website posts critical information to help the community of Fallston in sharing and tracking MtBE related contamination data. His second site allows Jacksonville residents to track status information of the more than 25,000-gallon release of gasoline into the subsurface of their community that uses groundwater as a drinking water source. As a volunteer effort, Mr. Gabler assisted MDE in posting critical information and establishing email groups to assist MDE in disbursing public health and safety information to these communities.
The Maryland Cooperative Extension Howard County Master Gardeners, a group of 140 volunteers trained to educate in horticultural, won the second adult category for the Tawes Award. The master gardeners provided more than 5,540 hours of service in presentations, control of non-native invasive plants, and conducting plant clinics. These volunteers also created the Schools and Stream program, now incorporated into the Howard County Public School System fifth grade curriculum. Part of this program involves the students in planting a riparian forest buffer and engaged over 2,700 fifth grade students in planting 1,300 trees along a stream. The master gardeners also provide on-site consultation to homeowners and associations to promote environmentally sound horticultural practices.
Herbert M. Sachs is currently a special projects coordinator with MDE’s Water Supply Program helping Maryland meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. He has dedicated 40 years of service and expertise to water resources management. In the early 1960’s he convinced the General Assembly that a Department of Water Resources should be formed. In 1975, Sachs became the director of the Water Resources Administration within MDE that is now known as the Department of Natural Resources. He was instrumental in creating the Oil Control Program and his administration provided strict monitoring of: wetlands, waterway construction, surface and groundwater appropriation and industrial wastewater discharges as well as laboratory services, water quality assessment, hydrological services, coastal zone management and surface and deep mining.
An Eastern Shore elementary school ecology class and an alternative learning educator from Baltimore County shared top honors at the 2005 Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment, presented recently in the Blue Heron Center at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. Nineteen students from the Kennard Elementary School Advanced Ecology Class and Gene Flanagan of the Rosedale Alternative Center won in the youth and adult categories respectively.
The 4th and 5th grade students of the Kennard Elementary School Advanced Ecology Class (Queen Anne’s County) chose to be involved in “extra-curricular” projects and assumed these added responsibilities with enthusiasm and energy, often working on weekends. Their projects included: the Reef Ball Ecology Project where students studied the animals and plants that live on reef balls in the Chesapeake Bay; the Raptor Research Project where the students collected baseline data on resident raptors at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center; the Recycling Program which was expanded to collect white paper and plastic containers, in addition to aluminum cans, and created a new “Recycling Hall of Fame” to recognize two classroom winners each week for recycling.
Students also studied diamondback terrapins and prepared them to live in the Chesapeake Bay on their own; studied rainforests and created a three-volume book on the Chesapeake Bay; and conducted a debate on mute swan population control. Students include: Lillian Rousseau, Samantha Rossi, Kiley Pignatero, Amanda D’Ambrosio, Amanda Delayo, Alana Spears, Jodie Blunt, Paul Jones, Jesse Durbin, Colleen Carter, Kyle Dean, Nicholas Panor, Jack Draper, Seamus O’Brien, Kyle Wood, Daniel Thiesse, Alex Werle, Emily Vooris, and Johnny Gygax.
The students of Mrs. Fatima’s Special Education Class at William S. Baer School in Baltimore City have severe physical and cognitive limitations. Yet every Tuesday, they take a break from their normal daily schedule of developmental activities to recycle. They use shopping carts, a wagon, and many bags provided by the Baltimore City Office of Recycling to collect recyclable paper from all floors of the school. This activity helps some students practice walking, improve their strength, and learn voice communication, all while helping the environment. Students include: Darius Campbell, Kiera Brown, Raymond Johnson, Dontrel Carroll, and Tiffany Raynor.
Gene Flanagan, of the Rosedale Alternative Center in Baltimore City, has contributed thousands of hours of valuable environmental service and is a role model for students, his colleagues, and the community. He assists approximately 600 secondary students each year who need an alternative learning program due to drug and alcohol use, possession of illegal weapons, serious classroom disruptions and violence, and suspensions or expelling and who would otherwise likely spend time in the juvenile justice system. Flanagan works with students to conduct complicated waterway cleanups, plant trees and shrubs throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, restore habitats, reduce waste and encourage recycling, construct flood and erosion control devices, and maintain trails and waterways on state and county parkland. Flanagan and his students assisted local communities hit by Hurricane Isabel in 2003 by removing truckloads of tires, trash, and other debris from Baltimore County waterways. He also assisted the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with planting and growing bay grasses and oyster seedings. Other partners for these projects included: the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Baltimore Forestry Board, Baltimore County Recreation and Parks, the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy, and the Maryland Department of Transportation.
A co-ed scouting troop and a long–time environmental educator shared top honors at the 28th Annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment held May 19, 2004 at the Blue Heron Center at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. The Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew 202 and Stephen Barry of the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center won in the youth and adult categories, respectively.
The Boy Scouts of America Venturing Crew 202 of Carroll County was formed in June 2002 and is composed of boys and girls between 14 and 20-years old who have participated in numerous environmental restoration, protection and education activities. Some of the activities include: a Chesapeake Bay riparian buffer re-establishment effort with the Chesapeake Bay Trust, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and DNR Forestry Service; a survey of federally endangered bog turtles and a bog turtle habitat restoration project; wetland restoration work at Fort McHenry with the National Aquarium; a cleanup of country roads in Frederick County; stream monitoring and an elementary school environmental education project.
The Runner-up in the youth category was Thomas Lee Fink a student at Bowie High School in Prince George’s County. Fink restored and enhanced a neglected pond that was built at the high school in 1965. He enlisted advice and assistance from instructors, a local pool manager, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a Boy Scout Webelos troop, and others to seal cracks in the pond, prune surrounding trees and clean the pond. He also developed educational fact boards to describe plant and animal species in the pond and installed a park bench.
Stephen Barry is Outdoor Education Director for the Arlington Echo Outdoor Education Center in Crownsville (Anne Arundel County) and is a well-respected leader in the environmental education field.
He has worked with the Anne Arundel County Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program to host the Master Gardeners’ Annual Conference the past two years. His hands-on work has assisted the Chesapeake Connections Program and the Native Plant Gardens Project of the Anne Arundel County Public Schools that encourages the development of native plant gardens and reduction of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay. The program is unique in Maryland because no other system and master gardener program has developed a similar effort targeted toward homeowner contributions to non-point source nutrient pollution.
Barry’s other projects include utilizing native plants in shoreline restorations, propagation of the endangered Atlantic white cedar and Northern pitcher plant and creation of demonstration bogs.
The Runner-up in the adult category was Richard Penhallegon, an instructor at Cockeysville Middle School in Baltimore County. Penhallegon was instrumental in gaining ‘Maryland Green School’ certification for his workplace and with funding from the Chesapeake Bay Trust and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service established an environmental study area that is available for community use. The study area includes a system of trails with a meadow, woodlands, wetland and enhanced habitat for wildflowers and native plants and wildlife.
A group of Eastern Shore students known as the “Monster Squad” and a local band of small town citizens shared top honors at the 27th annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment, presented last May 15, 2003 in the Blue Heron Center at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis. The Woodson Middle School in Somerset County and the Mt. Savage Historic Society and Beautification Committee won in the youth and adult categories respectively.
Woodson Middle School in Somerset County
Mt. Savage Historic Society and Beautification Committee
Communications and Outreach Manager
1800 Washington Boulevard, Baltimore, MD 21230