ODNR honors conservationists’ efforts

COLUMBUS -The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) bestowed its highest honor on two individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the conservation and enjoyment of the state’s natural resources.

Dr. Robert W. Teater, a former director of ODNR, was honored for his long career of service on behalf of natural resource management and outdoor recreation in Ohio.

Volney Rogers (1846-1919) of Youngstown, a pioneering advocate for urban parks and open spaces, was honored posthumously for his role in fostering Ohio’s local park districts.

Receiving ODNR’s Cardinal Awards for conservation achievement were: Jack Fishburn of Marengo, Susan Gray of Greenville, The Longaberger Company, and John Switzer of the Columbus Dispatch.

The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame was created by ODNR in 1966.

With the induction of Rogers and Teater, 125 individuals have now been accorded the honor, which recognizes a lifetime devoted to the preservation, protection and wise management of Ohio’s natural resources.

Previous Hall of Fame honorees include the legendary Johnnie Appleseed, Ohio-born explorer John Wesley Powell, botanist Lucy Braun and conservationist/novelist Louis Bromfield.

Rogers (1846-1919) played a pivotal role in establishing one of modern-day Ohio’s great treasures – its local and metropolitan park districts – which provide millions of Ohioans with outdoor recreation and opportunities to appreciate nature.

He also worked tirelessly for passage of the Township Parks Improvement Act of 1891, which he drafted, and led the campaign to establish the Youngstown Township Park District.

Rogers is best remembered for his personal efforts, against great odds, to preserve Mill Creek Park in Youngstown.

Teater served as director of ODNR from 1975 to 1983 and his leadership inspired some of the most significant and long-lasting developments in the department’s history.

In his distinguished career he has also served as associate dean of the College of Agriculture at The Ohio State University and was director of its School of Natural Resources.

He has played a key role in many of the state’s natural resource advancements, including establishment of the International Center for the Preservation of Wild Animals, and has been widely honored for his many contributions to Ohio’s leading conservation organizations.

The Cardinal Award honors Ohioans and Ohio-based organizations that have demonstrated exceptional environmental awareness and a commitment to natural resource conservation.

Fishburn has donated countless hours, a 42-acre site and the use of his company’s equipment in creating the ball diamonds, fishing pond and hiking trails for the new Highland Community Park in Morrow County. He also personally collects litter on a four-mile Adopt-a-Roadway segment on state Route 229.

Gray has worked since the 1960s to instill a conservation ethic in young people through her role as a 4-H adviser. Her pioneering work in organizing one of Ohio’s first stream quality monitoring programs became a model for other such programs statewide.

She has worked diligently to monitor and protect the Stillwater State Scenic River and its tributary streams.

The Longaberger Company continues to work on numerous ongoing partnerships with the State of Ohio to protect natural resources and expand outdoor recreation opportunities.

Among these efforts are the company’s longstanding support for establishment of the Tri-Valley State Wildlife Area and the purchase of thousands of trees to reforest this reclaimed mine land.

Significant contributions have also helped to maintain and improve the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve and to establish a public boat launch in Dresden. The Cardinal Award was accepted by Tami Longaberger, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

Since 1981, Switzer’s daily weather column in the Columbus Dispatch has been a “must-read” for hundreds of thousands of central Ohioans.

Creating a remarkable 300-plus columns each year, Switzer relegates the weather report to the last line or two of each piece, devoting each article instead to bits of wisdom about Ohio’s natural history, state parks, nature preserves and wildlife.

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