Osi Luncheon Mchenrys Amanda Gentile

2015 Barnabas McHenry Hudson River Valley Awards to Five Young Leaders

Image Credit: Amanda Gentile

NEW YORK, NY— April 29, 2015 —Today the Open Space Institute announced the winners of the Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, presented to exceptional young leaders working in support of the Hudson River Valley.

Every year, OSI makes awards of up to $6,000 each for graduate and undergraduate students to partner with regional nonprofits and complete projects in the fields of environmental conservation, historic preservation, the arts and tourism.

“For over forty years, OSI has worked to protect and preserve the Hudson River Valley, leaving a legacy for future generations to inherit and cherish just as we do,” said Kim Elliman, OSI President and CEO. “From enhancing agricultural efficiencies and opertions, climate change education and issues related to hunger and community food banks to researching local African-American history, this year’s recipients are taking on important challenges facing the Hudson Valley and beyond.”

OSI established the McHenry Awards in 2007 to honor the extensive contributions of OSI Trustee and environmental philanthropist and conservationist, Barnabas McHenry. Funded by an endowment raised by OSI, this year’s awards will fund graduate and undergraduate students to pursue research, leadership and community involvement in the Hudson Valley. Since the program’s inception, OSI has committed nearly $230,000 to support the initiative, which has awarded 33 McHenry grantees since 2007.

“Barnabas McHenry has created a broad and lasting influence in the Hudson River Valley. There are few parks, public places and cultural institutions there that have not benefited from his vision,” Elliman said. “In keeping with his legacy, the McHenry Awards identify and encourage the next generation of environmental and community leaders and we are inspired by their collective commitment.”

The 2015 recipients of the McHenry Awards and their projects are:

Michael Meehan will work with agricultural nonprofit Glynwood in Cold Spring, NY, to create a toolkit for the purpose of facilitating the baseline property assessment of agricultural properties by Partners in the Hudson Valley Farmlink Network. His project will streamline the process for assessing properties and lead to more thorough information about the agricultural possibilities of a given property. The information generated through baseline property assessment, in turn, will improve efficiencies in matchmaking efforts for partners, landowners and farmers by providing options and data at the beginning of the matchmaking process. Mr. Meehan, who is originally from Santa Cruz, California, is pursuing a Masters in Environmental Management at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Julia Czarnecki and Marissa Porter will work with Marist College to organize a series of public seminars on leadership in sustainability in an attempt to bridge the disconnect between the public and climate change through greater awareness. The goal of their project is to recognize and support best practices to improveenvironmental sustainability, including research, collaboration, and preservation as well as educate the public on environmental and sustainability practices, and provide information upon which to make sustainable decisions. Ms. Czarnecki and Ms. Porter are students at Marist College majoring in Environmental Science, where they have demonstrated a commitment to environmental conservation through participation in Students Encouraging Environmental Dedication, or SEED at Marist College. Ms. Czarnecki’s hometown is Wayne, NJ, while Ms. Porter is from West Newbury, MA.

In the historic preservation field, Tashae K. Smith will work with Manhattanville College to research, interpret and present to local and academic communities the history of enslaved and indentured African-American labor in the physical construction of the city of Newburgh, New York, with a particular focus on the period from the Revolutionary War to 1840. This project’s final product will consist of a comprehensive student-written and supervisor-evaluated narrative and analytical report that will detail research methods, sources and findings. Ms. Smith, who is originally from Newburgh, NY, is a History major at Manhattanville College and a recipient of their highest awarded student scholarship.

Sheena Zhang will work with Newburgh Community Land Bank to create a Food Hub in historic downtown Newburgh that incorporates market aggregation of farm products in the region, value added processing and food incubator opportunities. Her project focusing on restaurant/food service operations in addition to the potential for actual urban agriculture will bring a vibrant mix of people, businesses and investment to buildings in need of adaptive reuse concepts. Ms. Zhang will complete a dual master’s program in Architecture and Environmental Management this spring from the Yale schools of Architecture and Forestry & Environmental Studies.

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