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Heroes of Conservation 2018

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By Nancy Huth

Three nature lovers who have taken steps to conserve, preserve and protect our land for future generations were honored by Protect Geauga Parks at its fourth annual reception at Munson Township Hall in November. Recipients of the awards ere: Judy Barnhart, Greg Studen and Nate Finck (posthumously).

Memorial scholarships ere also awarded to three 2019high school graduates who have shown interest in environmental issues and conservation: Anna Corso of DCL, Emily Dingman of Berkshire High School and Nimue Lari Shive of Chardon High School. These young winners were judged on their application essays. Making peace with the earth in her efforts to protect it, was the theme of Anna’s essay. Emily wrote of the impact of humans on the environment. Along with her Dad, she has planted many trees. Nimue was influenced by her environmentally-conscious grandfather. She now refuses to use one-way plastics as one of her contributions to a safer natural habitat.

Judy Barnhart, one of the adult honorees, is a recognized expert on native plants and has led spring wildflower walks. She is a member of the Native Plant Society of NE Ohio. Her fellow naturalists call her “the botany and geology queen.” Barnhart has developed curricula for Observation Park, as well as programs on maple syrup production.  She recently retired from her position as Naturalist and Nature Education Coordinator for the Geauga Park District.  

Back in the late 1960s Greg Studen and his wife Joyce spent two years as Peace Corps volunteers in Sierra Leone working with local farmers on agricultural projects. Greg later became an attorney and acquired a masters degree in environmental health science. He has served on many committees and organizations associated with conservation. He and his wife were ounding members of the Geauga resh Farmers Market in Russell Township. 

In Studen’s acceptance speech he led his listeners through the last decades showing how man slowly became aware of the environment. In the 1950s DDT was prayed indiscriminately. Suddenly in 1962 with the publication of Rachael Carson’s book Silent Spring, we woke up to our role with the earth. In the 1970s we began to understand the connection humans have with the environment. Our present era has made us aware of the natural world’s limits in adapting to human activity.

Nathan Finck’s nephew Richard accepted the award in his uncle’s name. Nathan loved nature and that is what is printed on his gravestone. A teacher of math and science at Kenston Middle School and later at Lakeland College, he took students on field trips to experience nature with their own eyes. Finck spent summers working at various National Parks. In 1979 he was hired as a full-time naturalist by the Geauga Park District. Thousands of his photos were donated to the parks and are part of their archives.

The three adults and three high school students honored are truly heroes, people who love the land and take steps to preserve, conserve and protect it for future generations.

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