2016 Barnabas McHenry Awards go to four young leaders

NEW YORK, NY —April 28, 2016—The Open Space Institute has announced the recipients of the 2016 Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, honoring exceptional young leaders who are working to protect the Hudson River Valley.

The Open Space Institute established the McHenry Awards in 2007 to honor the extensive contributions of its Trustee Barnabas McHenry, a renowned environmental philanthropist and conservationist. Funded by an endowment raised by the Open Space Institute, the awards go to graduate and undergraduate students pursuing research, leadership and community involvement in the Hudson Valley.

“The winners of the Open Space Institute’s McHenry Award represent the bright future of the Hudson Valley,” said Kim Elliman, President and CEO of the Open Space Institute. “Through educational, conservation and cultural projects, these leaders of tomorrow are adding to Barney McHenry’s amazing legacy of dedication to the Valley.”

Every year, the Open Space Institute makes awards of up to $6,000 each for graduate and undergraduate students to partner with regional nonprofits in the fields of environmental conservation, historic preservation, the arts or tourism. In total since 2007, the Open Space Institute has committed nearly $260,000 to 38 McHenry Award grantees working in support of the Hudson Valley.

The 2016 recipients of the McHenry Awards and their projects are:

Allison M. Montroy will work with Beacon Institute for Rivers and Estuaries, a nonprofit environmental subsidiary of Clarkson University, to create an educational exhibit about the Hudson River. The exhibit will integrate digital art and real-time data from the River and Estuary Observatory Network—an observation and monitoring system of New York’s Hudson, Mohawk and St. Lawrence river watersheds—and will be housed at the Institute’s highly-visited “Sensor Place.” A native of the Adirondack and Northern New York region, Ms. Montroy is a graduate student candidate at Clarkson University.

Maija Niemisto will work with the nonprofit Hudson River Sloop Clearwater to research the distribution of fish and plankton in the Hudson River estuary via sonar. Combining fish sampling data collected from the organization’s historic sailboat with her sonar data, Niemisto aims to reveal insights into the fish food chain and how it might be impacted by factors such as climate change, habitat loss and other factors. Niemisto, from Kingston, NY, is a Master’s candidate at Stony Brook University.

Otto Ohle will work with Prattsville Art Project Inc. to develop a series of multimedia digital workshops for rural youth. Hosted by the Prattsville Art Center, the workshops will explore the experiences of young people growing up among the forests and mountain valleys of the Northern Catskills. Ohle’s project will culminate in an innovative film and video festival, which will screen the youth workshops as well as works by other artists. Ohle, who grew up in the Northern Hudson Valley, is an undergraduate at SUNY Purchase.

Nicole Pidala will work with Hudson Highlands Land Trust and the Town of Philipstown, NY, to update the town’s Open Space Index and Open Areas Inventory within its Comprehensive Plan. First compiled in 2006, the data is intended for use by residents, local boards, project applicants, nonprofit land conservation organizations and state agencies, to guide long-term protection of the town’s ground and surface water, biodiversity, community character and recreation. Raised in Philipstown, Ms. Pidala is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Vermont.

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