Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD (May 16, 2001) -- An Annapolis elementary school and a foundation that educates children on the environment through its living laboratory shared top honors at the 25th annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment, presented today in the Blue Heron Center at Quiet Waters Park. St. Mary’s Elementary School and the Alice Ferguson Foundation in Prince George’s County won in the youth and adult categories respectively.

The Tawes Award is an environmental recognition program sponsored by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and the Maryland Petroleum Council (MPC) in the name of late Maryland Governor J. Millard Tawes, who was also the state's first secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The award is open to 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.

"The Tawes awardees represent some of what is best about Maryland, its people," said MDE Assistant Secretary Denise Ferguson-Southard, who issued the awards with MPC Executive Director Drew Cobbs. "For 25 years, the Tawes award recipients, have not only walked the talk of environmental stewardship, but have planted the trees, cleaned the streams, built the buffers, and restored the wetlands. They know and understand that what we do today will have an impact on tomorrow. Through their projects and service they help us spread the message of personal responsibility in caring for our natural world."

Fifth and sixth graders at St. Mary's Elementary won their award for work on several environmental projects including: the construction of a butterfly garden on school property and controlling soil erosion with vegetation. They also grew wild celery (a subaquatic plant) in the classroom, which was later transplanted in the Chesapeake Bay near Sandy Point State Park with assistance from DNR.

In addition to maintaining an extensive recycling program in their classrooms, St. Mary’s students have also displayed their dedication to the state’s wildlife by raising baby Maryland terrapins to be released back into the wild and have collected more than $800 to rescue terrapins caught by fishermen.

Since 1954, the Alice Ferguson Foundation has welcomed more than 10,000 children a year to its living laboratory. The foundation is situated on more than 300 acres of wetlands, forests, pasture, creeks and two miles of Potomac River shoreline in Accokeek. The foundation was instrumental in starting "River Clean Up Day." Over the past 13 years, volunteers who participate in River Clean-up Day have hauled nearly 550 tons of trash from the Potomac River and its tributaries at more than 100 sites, from Hampshire County in West Virginia to St. Mary's County in Maryland. The foundation coordinates numerous federal, state, county and city governments, businesses, non-profits, and neighborhoods associations to make the annual Potomac watershed cleanup successful.

The Runner-up in the youth category was the Dulaney High School Key Club in Timonium. Last year the Key Club conducted two major planting projects to increase the size of the riparian barrier along 750 feet of the Dulaney Branch, a tributary of the Loch Raven Reservoir. The club, sponsored by the Kiwanis club of Timonium-Hunt Valley, also constructed two bat houses and 10 bird houses, planted trees at Gunpowder Falls State Park, took water samples and inspected area streams for erosion.

The efforts of the club were expanded beyond the borders of Baltimore County when members helped gather acorns and walnuts to assist in the collection of seeds for the state nursery at Preston in Caroline County.

The Runner-up in the adult category was Gloria Heisserman, an environmental educator at the Nanjemoy Creek Environmental Center, operated by Charles County Public Schools, and co-founder of the Nanjemoy/Potomac Environmental Coalition. Heisserman, known to others as one who tirelessly devotes her time and effort to the preservation of the environment, serves on the Charles County Conservancy Board of Directors, is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Rural Commission for Charles County.

A panel of judges chooses the Tawes Award winners and runners-up. Last year’s winners included the Vienna Elementary School and Lynn Kramer, founder of Baltimore City’s Herring Run Watershed Association.

For more information on the Tawes Award for a clean Environment, please call (410) 269-1850 or MDE's Office of Communications at (410) 631-3003.