Awards luncheon

The McKean County Conservation District held an awards luncheon Friday at the Otto-Eldred High School. From left are Mark Adams, representing Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway; honoree Don Tanner; Fawn Miller, O-E teacher and adviser to the West Eldred Woodmen; O-E Principal Harley Ramsey; and Sandy Thompson, manager and Kerry Fetter, chairman, both of the county’s conservation district.

DUKE CENTER — Otto-Eldred High School students were recognized Friday at the McKean County Conservation District's 2017 Awards Luncheon held at the school.

The school's "West Eldred Woodmen" won the conservation district's Wild Envirothon last spring at the Keating Sportsmen's Club and represented the county at the state envirothon. Students scored 396.7 points of a possible 500, for a 19th place of 63 high school teams. This team also placed second in the northwest region.

Ethan Flexman, a member of the team, spoke about his experiences at the local and state envirothons. Club adviser Fawn Miller and high school Principal Harley Ramsey commented on conservation activities at the school.

A science teacher, Miller spoke about her efforts in advancing environmental literacy with her classes, especially in seventh and eighth grades. She also said hopes to secure a grant for planting a community garden at the school, similar to the one at the elementary school.

Ramsey, a former agriculture teacher who has worked in industry, mentioned the importance of educators' roles in providing students with experiences as they move to environmental literacy.

Also at the luncheon, Don Tanner of Turtlepoint received the Conservation Partner Award. Tanner had been part of Penn State Extension since 1989 and retired in June.

Mark Adams, district director for state Sen. Joe Scarnati, R-Brockway, presented Tanner with a state Senate citation that honored him for his achievements.

"He was the heart and soul of the McKean County 4-H program until 2004, when he was promoted to become county extension director for both roles," said Sandy Thompson, district manager. "In both roles, Don has promoted youth and adult conservation education. He supported a newly formed wildlife and forestry club and 4-H participation for many years in the state wildlife habitat evaluation program and forestry field days.”

Tanner has also promoted productive partnerships with many other organizations under his leadership. Extension staff, under his direction, have assisted at workshops and events since the county conservation district became full time in 2006.

“The expansion of the water quality, agriculture and Master Gardener programs in McKean County are some of his favorite achievements," Thompson added.

Thompson also recognized the conservation district's directors for their years of service.

"Our directors are volunteers from the county," she said. "There are three farmer directors, three public directors and one county commissioner, along with associate directors, all of whom represent different facets of the community and land use, but ultimately conservation.”

Three directors were honored: Steve Sherk for 10 years as a public director and vice chairman for two years; Chase Miles for being a 10-year farmer director and an associate director; and Ken Kane for being an associate director for 10 years.

The event also included Ramsey accepting the River of the Year Event Award.