News from the DNR Office of Communications

Governor O'Malley Honors Life-Long Conservationists

BPW approves naming of sites in honor of Tom Wisner, Julie Schweikert and Gary Yoder

Annapolis, MD (February 24, 2010) — Governor Martin O’Malley and the Board of Public Works (BPW) today honored three Marylanders who devoted their lives to conservation and stewardship. At the request of the Governor, the Board acted to approve naming of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) properties in honor of folk-singer and educator Tom Wisner, Park Ranger Julie Schweikert, and long-time DNR employee Gary Yoder.

“Today we honor three individuals who dedicated their lives to helping citizens and visitors better understand and appreciate the beauty and importance of our natural resources,” said Governor O’Malley at a meeting attended by family members, friends and colleagues of the honorees. ”Now their work will live on ― not only in the hearts and minds of all they touched ― but also through the land and education programs they loved.”

The Education center at King’s Landing Park in Calvert County will be named the Tom Wisner Hall at King’s Landing Park. Known as Bard of the Bay, Wisner has been raising awareness among children and adults for the past 40 years about the spirit, beauty, and human connection to the Chesapeake Bay through folk music. In 2002, the World Folk Music Association gave him the John Denver Award.

“Tom was Maryland's first official environmental educator, who has connected generations of school children to the Bay through music, art, and poetry, and whose footsteps thousands of us continue to follow. Tom is a true hero of the Bay,” said Chesapeake Bay Foundation Vice President for Education Don Baugh.

The Nature Center at Janes Island State Park in Somerset County will be named for Ranger Julie Schweikert. An 18-year Maryland Park Service veteran, Ranger Schweikert worked first as a naturalist, then as park manager until her untimely death in 2009 at the age of 43.

“Julie had a passion for providing interpretive programming for local school children and park visitors,” said MPS Superintendent Nita Settina. “She touched the lives of thousands of young environmental stewards through her passion for getting kids involved with their natural world.”

The Carrie Dixon property in Allegany County will be named the Gary A. Yoder Fish Management Area in honor of the 30-year DNR employee, who was instrumental in efforts to restore and promote fishing opportunities in the region. Yoder, who passed away suddenly last year, was DNR’s first manager of Deep Creek Lake and later worked extensively in land acquisition and planning. The Carrie Dixon parcel was DNR’s first acquisition for public boating and fishing access on the North Branch of the Potomac River.

If I know my father as well as I think I do, I know he would be proud of this honor,” said Garrett Yoder, Gary’s 14-year old son. “He put everything into his work and now I’m happy that there is a way for everybody to know the important work he’s done.“

“The passion and dedication of Tom, Julie and Gary have long-inspired our DNR family,” said Secretary John Griffin. “It is our honor to be able to recognize them -- their spirit and their remarkable contributions -- in this way.”


   February 24, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell
jdavidsburg@dnr.state.md.us

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at www.dnr.maryland.gov