Environmental Champion Awards

Through its Environmental Champions Awards, The Rockfall Foundation recognizes individuals and groups to highlight their contributions to the region in the area of natural resource preservation, conservation, restoration, or education. The Tom ODell Distinguished Service Awardis given for outstanding life-long accomplishments. Certificates of Appreciation are awarded to recognize significant programs and projects.

Nominations for 2022 are open! Applications are due to pete@rockfallfoundation.org by noon on Friday, July 29.

The focus areas include:

  • Preservation: work to protect ecosystems, species, and other irreplaceable elements of the region’s natural heritage.
  • Conservation: work to minimize our use of finite natural resources and our negative impacts on ecosystems and communities.
  • Restoration: work to re-establish the healthy functions of an ecosystem or parts of ecosystems.
  • Education: work to foster a stronger awareness and understanding of environmental and sustainability issues.

The nominee’s contributions must impact the Lower Connecticut River Valley, which includes the following towns: Chester, Clinton, Cromwell, Deep River, Durham, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Killingworth, Lyme, Middlefield, Middletown, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook. Impacts to the Connecticut River corridor or Long Island Sound are also eligible as long as there is a benefit to at least one of the listed towns.


*In honor of Tom ODell’s many years of environmental service in the Lower Connecticut River Valley, The Rockfall Foundation has named its Distinguished Service Award in his memory. Tom’s many contributions to the natural world were recognized by The Rockfall Foundation in 2016 by presenting him with the Distinguished Service Award. With his passing in 2018, Rockfall honored his legacy further with the naming of the Tom ODell Distinguished Service Award.

Most Recent Past Recipients:

2021: Tom ODell Distinguished Service Awards – Kim O’Rourke;  Certificates of Appreciation –  Bernie Gilli and Dr. Diba Khan-Gureau.

2020: Tom ODell Distinguished Service Awards – Margaret Miner and East Haddam Land Trust;  Certificates of Appreciation –  ARTFARM, Nathan Botting and Chantal Foster

2019: Tom ODell Distinguished Service Awards – Essex Land Trust and Pat Young; Certificates of Appreciation – Bill Hesbach and Katie Hughes-Nelson

2018: Tom ODell Distinguished Service Award – George Moore; Certificates of Appreciation – Town of Killingworth and the Parmelee Farm Committee; Town of Portland and the Air Line Trail Steering Committee; Shaleen Thody

2017: Distinguished Service Award – Jane Harris; Certificates of Appreciation – Jonah Center for Earth and Art; Janet Sisson (Independent Day School Teacher)

2016: Distinguished Service Award – Thomas ODell; Certificates of Appreciation – Connecticut Water Company; Connecticut River Expeditions/RiverQuest

2015: Distinguished Service Award – Sue Merrow; Certificates of Appreciation – Common Goods Garden; Food for All Garden; Long Lane Farm; President’s Awards in honor of Rockfall Foundation’s 80th Year – David Bingham, Eric Hammerling, Amy Blaymore Paterson

2014: Distinguished Service Award – Alliance for Sound area Planning (ASaP); Certificates of Appreciation – Jim and Sara Keaney, Suellen McCuin, Belinda Murano

2013: Distinguished Service Award – Marcie Klattenburg; Certificate of Appreciation – Chris Zurcher

Founded in 1935 by Middletown philanthropist Clarence S. Wadsworth, The Rockfall Foundation is one of Connecticut’s oldest environmental organizations. The Foundation supports environmental education, conservation and planning initiatives in the Lower Connecticut River Valley through public programs and grants. In addition, the Rockfall Foundation operates the historic deKoven House Community Center that offers meeting rooms and office space for non-profit organizations.

For additional information about the Environmental Champion Awards or The Rockfall Foundation, contact pete@rockfallfoundation.org or call 860-347-0340.

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