Honors include inaugural Waletzky Award for Environmental Stewardship
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has announced its annual employee awards, which recognize outstanding work on behalf of the New York state park and historic site system. The awards included the L.L. Huttleston Executive Award, the agency’s highest honor, given to a senior manager; the first Waletzky Award for Environmental Stewardship; and the agency’s top peer recognition, the Maple Leaf Award.
"New York state is fortunate that we have such dedicated staff taking care of our parks and historic sites, and working hard to offer countless opportunities to explore the outdoors and enjoy family-friendly fun," State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said. "It’s a pleasure to recognize some of the very best of our staff each year for extraordinary service. Congratulations to all our award recipients who share a positive, can-do spirit that we rely on to maintain and enhance our world-class park system."
AnnMarie McVicker, park operations manager for the Palisades Region, earned the L.L. Huttleston Executive Award, the agency’s highest honor given to recognize outstanding ability in the enhancement, administration and implementation of the park system’s philosophy and development for the public good. McVicker has built a 42-year career in state service, the past 15 with State Parks. Among her roles with parks were general park manager for the Palisades in 2017, and park operations manager in 2018. Before joining parks, McVicker served with the Department of Corrections for 27 years.
The award is named for the former director of State Parks, Leonard L. Huttleston, “long considered one of the top professional park administrators in the country.”
Local winners include: The Niagara Environmental, Capital and Operation Team earned the inaugural Waletzky Award for Environmental Stewardship. The award is named for Dr. Lucy Rockefeller Waletzky, who served 14 distinguished years as chair of the New York State Council of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the Taconic Regional Commission. The honor is given in recognition of her “lifelong and unwavering dedication to protecting, conserving and enhancing the ecology and biodiversity of New York state and beyond.”
Niagara Region team members include Regional Director Mark Mistretta, Capital Facilities Manager John Honan, Community Affairs and Public Outreach Coordinator Angela Berti, Great Lakes Restoration Coordinator Dave Spiering, Environmental Analyst Evyn Iacovitti, as well as Albany-based staff Gaby Cebeda Mora, director of division of environmental stewardship; and conservation section head Lynn Bogan.
Funded via an $11 million grant from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the work started with State Parks designing and implementing four habitat restoration projects in Beaver Island and Buckhorn Island state parks along the Niagara River on Grand Island. The projects were focused on protecting, restoring and enhancing coastal wetlands along the shorelines and in the shallow areas of the Niagara River, including East River Marsh, Burnt Ship Creek, Grass Island and Buckhorn Shoreline. All were completed on schedule and under budget from 2019 to 2021, and restored more than 58 acres of habitat along over two miles of shoreline. Remaining funds are being used to complete three additional habitat restoration projects on Grand Island.
Special Achievement Awards, which recognize outstanding service in a specific aspect of Agency operations, went to Stephen Lee and Tyler Shields (Niagara Region)
The Special Service Award to recognize extraordinary achievement, continuous outstanding service or acts of valor, was given to Mike Vorel (Niagara Region).
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses and boat launches, which are visited by more than 78 million people annually. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit www.parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app, or call 518-474-0456. Connect on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.