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John and Margot Ernst honored with 2009 Land Conservation Award and 2009 Barnabas McHenry grants awarded to three young Hudson Valley leaders at OSI's Annual Luncheon

New York, NY - May 6, 2009 - The Open Space Institute presented John and Margot Ernst today with the organization’s 2009 Land Conservation Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions in the fields of land conservation and environmental protection.

In addition, OSI announced the three recipients of the Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, which are funded by an endowment raised by OSI. These annual awards provide financial support to promising young leaders and enable projects that make significant contributions in the areas of environmental conservation, historic preservation and the arts in the Hudson River Valley.

The awards were announced today at OSI’s annual luncheon, at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. Leonard A. Lauder, chairman of the board of The Estee Lauder Companies, Inc. and last year’s Land Conservation Award winner, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event that featured New York Times Associate Editor Robert B. Semple, Jr. as the keynote speaker. Approximately 300 people attended.  

Mr. Ernst is on the board of the Adirondack Council, where he also is a past chairman. He is also on the board of the New York League of Conservation Voters, the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, the Adirondack Lake Survey Corporation, and the Open Space Institute.

Margot Paul Ernst is co-chair, along with her husband, of the George Gustav Heye Center, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution. Mrs. Ernst’s conservation interest is reflected in her board service for Audubon New York and National Audubon, in her participation in Mountain Birdwatch, and in her work organizing programs honoring women in conservation.

Together, the Ernsts operate Elk Lake Lodge, an Adirondack wilderness resort. In 1963, Mr. Ernst’s grandfather donated the first conservation easement recorded in New York State to protect the shoreline of Elk Lake.

The Barnabas McHenry Hudson River Valley Awards were created in 2007 to honor OSI trustee Barnabas (Barney) McHenry’s extensive contributions and accomplishments, to celebrate Barney’s leadership, and to create opportunities for the Hudson River Valley’s future leaders in environmental conservation, historic preservation and the arts. The Awards support pairings of young leaders and exemplary projects.

Three recipients were announced today:

Jesse Catalano, a Middlebury College student, will collaborate with the Bedford Garden Club to envision projects on the local level that will create sustainable communities in the Hudson Valley;

Melissa Kay Oles Gavilanes, a natives of the Catskills, will assist the Thomas Cole National Historic Site with the development of family education programs; and

Matthew Shook will work with the Friends of the Palisades Parks Conservancy to create and plan a curriculum, teacher training sessions, and a field trip revolving around the Lakeville-Ironworks Trail.

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