On June 10, Parks & Trails New York hosted its 2015 Park & Trail Hero Awards reception to recognize the leadership, creativity, and donation of time, talent, and materials behind many of New York’s parks and trails. This year, PTNY honored eight heroes in four award categories: Public Leadership, Volunteer Service, Get Outdoors, and Outside the Box. The honorees consisted of public officials, volunteers, and park and trail boosters.
Congratulations to this year’s Park & Trail Heroes:
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz received the Public Leadership Award for a park program as a result of his commitment to restoring and enhancing the 10,000-acre Erie County Park System. Over the past three years, Poloncarz has devoted almost $10 million in financial support to the redevelopment and rejuvenation of the Erie County Park System. He has negotiated partnerships among community stakeholders and developed a sense of collective ownership and pride among park users and county residents.
The Public Leadership Award for a trail project went to Montezuma Town Historian Cheryl Longyear for her dedication of professional and personal time and effort to gather funding, community support, and a vision for the Montezuma Heritage Park. Her work has resulted in an attractive trail system residents and visitors can use to bike, hike, walk, and learn about the Cayuga County town’s cultural and historical significance.
Co-founders of the Preservationists of Jay Heritage Center Caroline Wallach and Emma Hanratty received the Volunteer Service Award for a park program for their innovative and sustained efforts to recruit volunteers and funding to restore and maintain the culturally- and historically-significant Jay Heritage Center in Westchester County. Their work has allowed the Jay Heritage Center to fulfill its mission to educate visitors about the site’s historic importance.
Kay Cynamon received the Volunteer Service Award for a trail project. She has demonstrated dedication to Taconic State Park and New York-New Jersey Trail Conference through the countless volunteer hours she has spent over the past 15 years maintaining, promoting, advocating for, and mapping miles of trails in the Taconic Region.
The Get Outdoors Award went to two people: Theresa Bowick and Laura Clark. Theresa Bowick received the Get Outdoors Award for her creative efforts to promote physical activity and trail use along Rochester’s El Camino Trail through the development of the Conkey Cruisers Program. Laura Clark received recognition for organizing a series of snowshoe and trail races over the past 12 years to serve as a way for people to enjoy Saratoga Springs-area parks in ways they previously wouldn’t consider.
Landscape architect Rick Manning received the Outside the Box award for his countless visionary and creative contributions to various park and trail projects. His projects have enhanced the quality of life for residents across the state, including in his hometown of Ithaca where he created the Cayuga Waterfront Trail Initiative and led the efforts to rejuvenate the Ithaca Waterfront and Stewart Park.