OSI honors Patrick H. Dollard as 2014 Conservationist of the Year

NEW YORK, NY — April 3, 2014 — The Open Space Institute presented Patrick H. Dollard of The Center for Discovery with the 2014 Land Conservation Award today, honoring Dollard for his years of service in advancing land conservation and public health through access to the natural world. 

OSI also announced the four 2014 recipients of the Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, which are funded by an endowment raised by OSI to honor Trustee Barney McHenry. These annual awards provide financial support to promising young leaders who are working with nonprofit organizations on projects based in the Hudson River Valley. The projects that the awards support will offer significant contributions in the fields of the arts, 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. John P. Cahill, the former New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner and Chief of Staff for Gov. George Pataki, presented Dollard with the Land Conservation Award, and author and journalist Calvin Trillin delivered the keynote address. Approximately 320 people attended.

Patrick H. Dollard is President and CEO of The Center for Discovery, an internationally renowned provider of research, intervention, health and residential services for children and adults with severe disabilities and medical frailties, including autism spectrum disorders. With campuses in the towns of Hurleyville and Harris, NY, The Center offers individuals and their families innovative educational, clinical, social, creative arts and recreational experiences designed to enrich their lives through personal accomplishment.

OSI and The Center for Discovery have partnered on numerous conservation projects that support the essential connection between open space, agriculture and public health.

Farming plays a central role at The Center, providing both local, organic food for the staff and residents, as well as meaningful work and learning opportunities on the properties. In 2005, the Open Space Institute supported The Center’s farming efforts by acquiring a conservation easement to protect the 300–acre Stonewall Preserve. In 2011, OSI helped The Center acquire the 130–acre Applebee Farm, and in 2013 the two organizations teamed again to acquire a 165–acre cattle farm and a 9.2–mile railroad bed. The farm will give Center residents, many of them autistic, valuable access to the natural world through an innovative educational initiative, while the rail bed will become a recreational and economic centerpiece for the revitalized hamlet of Hurleyville. 

OSI established the McHenry Awards in 2007 to honor OSI trustee Barney McHenry’s contributions to the region by recognizing young leaders with an exceptional vision for the future of the Hudson Valley. Since creating the awards, OSI has invested nearly $120,000 in the future of the region.

The 2014 recipients of the McHenry Awards are:

Samantha Singleton, a recent graduate of Smith College and the winner in the category of the arts, will work with the Thomas Cole National Historic Site to inventory, organize, plan and develop a recently donated collection of all known Thomas Cole letters, journals, drawings, paintings, exhibition records, articles, books and other documents for use by Thomas Cole staff and Fellows. 

The winner in the field of environmental conservation is Katherine Sopko, a sophomore at Bard who will work with the Rondout Valley Growers’ Association to produce a comprehensive profile of farming in the Rondout Valley and its contributions to the environmental, social, economic and historical fabric of the Hudson Valley. 

As the winner in the historic preservation category, Sawyer Cresap, a junior at Syracuse University, will work with the Preservation League of New York State to publish a grassroots guide to public participation in the Public Service Commission review process, with an emphasis on the role that historic and cultural resources and designation play in the process.  

Ben Himmelfarb, the winner in the field of tourism and a graduate student at SUNY Albany, will work with the Shaker Heritage Society to develop a Heritage Tourism plan as part of Partners for Albany Stories (PASt). 

"OSI applauds Patrick Dollard for his extensive efforts protecting land and introducing people with special needs to the natural world, where in many cases they have thrived. Healthy land makes for healthy food makes for healthy people, and The Center for Discovery is proving that every day,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “We are also proud to award four McHenry grants today, and we’re confident of the positive impact this year’s winners will have on the future of the Hudson Valley.”

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