Winner to be announced at the Annual Pot Luck Picnic
Do you know someone who has shown leadership in the preservation and protection of the environment or natural resources? If so, consider nominating them for the Evergreen Award! We take nominations for individuals, groups, and businesses who have demonstrated grassroots environmental leadership in a variety of areas, including but not limited to:
- New or innovative technology to prevent harm to our environment
- Participation in activities that show a direct positive effect on our environment
- Participation in activities that resulted in the preservation of a historical, natural, or cultural resource
- Participation in activities of notable stewardship of the environment.
Nominees can be nominated by an individual or groups can self-nominate.
Past Award Winners
2016 – Alex Lezark
The 5th Annual Evergreen Award was presented to Alex Lezark at our annual picnic. It was accepted by his wife Nancy, son Patrick and sister in law Delores. Alex has been a member of PaSEC/EASI since 1998. He was a certified trainer in chemical analysis and how to use the colorimeter and digital titrator testing for AMD. He has trained over 200 people statewide, including school students. He was featured in the EASI May 2002 volunteer stars special edition. He has been active in the Blackleggs Watershed Association since 1998, and served on its Board of Directors for three years. AMD remediation projects have been designed and built using the data that he collected.In 1999, Alex began volunteering with Kiski-Conemaugh Stream Team, testing water quality and collecting water samples. In 2003, he and his wife Nancy were Stream Team Volunteers of the Year. He also has conducted seminars on AMD treatment systems for Saltsburg High School students.Since 1996, he has been a member of Ken Sink Chapter of Trout Unlimited where he served as a board member for several years, and co-chaired the annual banquet for three years. In 2006, Alex and John Ferraro participated in the Yellowstone Park Foundation’s Fly Fishing Volunteers Program, where they assisted Bill Voigt (Volunteer Coordinator for the Fly-Fishing Volunteers Program) in gathering vital biological data from the Park’s fish populations. This data is used in critical research studies and restoration efforts. Alex passed away July 12, 2016. We will all miss him.
2015 – John Somonick
The 4th Annual Evergreen Award was presented to John Somonick who was nominated by Indiana County PaSEC. John was one of the founding members of EC back in 2004 and has consistently demonstrated his grassroots leadership in activities that have a positive effect on our environment. He has an impressive list of achievements including a life membership in all of the county watersheds, service on many county association boards throughout the years, talented map-making skills (his watershed maps of Indiana County will be incorporated into the county Comprehensive Plan and will also be used by IUP) and many other certifications, trainings and awards related to the environment.
This year John also received the Elk of the Year award. He coauthored a book with John Wilson titled “’Coon Come Easy.” Congratulations John!
2014 – Karin Eller and Plant-It Earth
The 3rd Annual Evergreen Award was presented to Karin Eller and Plant-It Earth. Karin and her business received an overwhelming three nominations and was chosen based on her amazing work with her business she co-founded, owns, and operates.
Karin came to the Small Business Development Center in 1997 wanting to grow heirloom tomatoes and peppers in an area off the beaten path in southern Indiana County. She was persistent and committed to turn this idea into a vision for a business. She grows plants without herbicides, pesticides, or inorganic fertilizer, and all plants are organic. She maintains a beehive to help pollination and plants are watered by spring water only. Her business produces no garbage and Plant-It Earth is recognized as an Integrated Pest Management facility by PSU and as a National Federation Wildlife Habitat.
People will trek from Pittsburgh to make a special trip to visit Plant-it-Earth. Senator Don White said, “Karin and Plant-It Earth are operating in all ways possible to preserve the best that Indiana County nature has to offer.”
Her involvement goes beyond her responsible business practices. She is also active in the Blacklick Watershed-Laurel Run project, Four Footed Friends, Strongstown Historical Society Earth Day Projects. She has taught continuing education courses at IUP and created a living flag to honor veterans.
2013 – John Novak
The second annual Evergreen Award went to the late John Novak. Mr. Novak was a lifetime advocate of the natural world. He was called “The Consummate Volunteer” because he was involved with so many different projects, was an outdoor educator, and was a member and officer of Crooked Creek watershed. A number of family members were present at the annual membership meeting to accept the award.
2012 – LeeRoy Vatter
The first annual Evergreen Award was given to LeeRoy Vatter. LeeRoy, 81, has managed his 100 acre farm located along Crooked Creek since 1963. He has been active in many environmental focused groups over the years, including the Conservation District, the Governor’s Citizen Advisory Group, Youth Conservation Days with the Keystone Sportsmans’ Club. He has done hunter safety training as a member of PA Federation of Sportsmen, National Parks and Conservation Association Citizens against Water Loss Due to Mining, PA Forestry Association, Ken Sink Chapter of Trout Unlimited, Conservation and Environmental Resources Council for DCNR, Crooked Creek Watershed, Indiana County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps, and Evergreen Conservancy. He has been a hunting a trapping instructor, rifle and pistol instructor, and a 4H instructor. He initiated Growing Greener projects such as the Keystone Wetland Assessment and Redesign Project, and Crooked Creek and Campbell Run Stream Bank Restoration Project at Falcon Park. He was involved in efforts to eliminate mining pollution near Ernest. Mine discharges and runoff from 300 acres of slag and waste coal has drained into McGee Run, a tributary of Crooked Creek, for decades.
LeeRoy has said, “Conservation of our natural resources is something that I’ve believed in for a long time.”