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OSI honors Carol Ash and Sam Pryor III as 2013 Conservationists of the Year

NEW YORK, NY — April 17, 2013 —  The Open Space Institute presented Carol Ash and Sam Pryor III today with the 2013 Land Conservation Award, honoring both for their years of outstanding contributions in the fields of land conservation and environmental protection. 

The organization also announced the three 2013 recipients of the Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, which are funded by an endowment raised by OSI to honor OSI Trustee Barney McHenry’s lifetime of work in the Hudson River Valley. These annual awards provide financial support to promising young leaders who are matched with deserving nonprofit organizations and projects in the Hudson Valley. The projects that the awards support are designed to make significant contributions in a variety of fields, including environmental conservation, historic preservation and tourism. 

The awards were announced at OSI’s annual luncheon, held today at the Metropolitan Club in New York City. David Redden, a devoted Hudson River conservationist and vice chairman of Sotheby’s, served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Former Gov. George Pataki presented the Land Conservation Awards and Diana Taylor, the chairperson of the Hudson River Park Trust, delivered the keynote address. Approximately 330 people attended.

Carol Ash is the president of the Carey Center for Global Good, a recently created non-profit organization which uses its 100-acre country conference center to host symposiums on today’s most pressing environment, political, economic and social topics. She served as commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation from 2007 to 2010. Prior to her time as commissioner, Carol served as executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, where she was the first woman to hold the post in the 107-year history of the Commission. She has been on the boards of many environmental organizations, was a founding advisor of OSI’s Alliance for New York State Parks program and currently serves on the board of the Open Space Institute.

Sam Pryor, a dedicated conservationist, has provided key leadership to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, where he has served as co-president and commissioner since 1998. An avid hiker, Sam was president of the Appalachian Mountain Club from 1994-1996, during a time of tremendous growth for the AMC. He helped establish the Sterling Forest Partnership, a consortium of public and private land trusts that paved the way for the purchase of over 17,000 acres in the towns of Monroe, Warwick and Tuxedo in 1997. Sam has also provided leadership to the Westchester Land Trust, Scenic Hudson and Audubon New York and many other conservation organizations. For four decades, he was a partner with the law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

OSI established the McHenry Awards in 2007 to recognize young leaders who have the exceptional vision to help create the Hudson Valley of the future. Since that time, the organization has invested nearly $100,000 in the future of the region. 

The 2013 recipients of the McHenry Awards are:

Working with the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Bard College graduate student Megan McClellan won the McHenry Award for the field of tourism and will seek to engage community members, businesses and local governments in the creation of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail—a 40-mile walking and riding trail from Kingston to Highmount that will provide significant tourism, recreation, and economic development benefits for the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain regions. While the creation of the rail trail is a long-term project for the Conservancy, a key component of McClellan’s work will be establishing a “Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail” committee.

In the field of historic preservation, Christina Ritter, a Marist College student, will create a Dutchess County Social Studies Toolkit for Educators for the Hudson River Valley Institute at Marist, and will present a session at Teaching the Hudson Valley, a joint summer institute supported by the National Park Service, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area. The toolkits will be site-specific, both virtual and physical (with materials and resources boxed and available for loan) to bring regional history, aligned to newly implemented Common Core standards and New York State Social Studies standards, into Poughkeepsie City School District classrooms. 

Keith Shane, a first-year student at Cornell University and the winner in the field of environmental conservation, will team with the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference on an Invasives Strike Force project to monitor and remove invasive plants. His project will significantly expand the Trail Conference’s efforts to control invasives in the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and Taconic State Park regions in continued cooperation with the Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasives Species Management.

“This year’s luncheon really is like a best of the best,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s CEO and president, “as Carol has done so much for parks in New York State and Sam has been an incredible conservation leader throughout the Northeast. And our McHenry award winners represent the bright future of the Hudson Valley and will be environmental leaders for generations to come.”

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