Connie Hoge has been in love with trees all her life, so it was fitting that she was the first recipient of the Forest Partner Lifetime Achievement Award, chosen by the Maryland Association of Forest Conservancy District Boards.
Hoge received the award March 17 during a monthly meeting of the Carroll County Forest Conservancy District Board, which she chairs.
"I loved to climb trees as a kid, and I never wanted to live in a neighborhood without trees," Hoge said. "The Forestry Board is a huge part of making that possible for everyone."
Although Hoge was the first recipient, the state Forestry Board plans to present it biannually to a member nominated by peer review.
"We wanted to come up with some way to honor our volunteers," said Jim Bardsley, president of the Maryland Association of Forestry Conservancy District Boards. "We selected people who have been involved with the organization for more than 10 years."
Hoge works extra hard for the organization, according to Bardsley. She has been involved with the Carroll County Forestry Board for 22 years. In that time, Hoge said the board has almost doubled the amount of forest cover in the county through educational workshops and tree plantings.
"We've made the Forestry Board more visible," she said.
Hoge is also the primary organizer of the Natural Resources Conservation Camp, a one-week coeducational summer camp program for high school students interested in pursuing a career in forestry or natural resources.
Students learn about working in the field of natural resources. The camp exposes rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to educational requirements and career opportunities in forestry, water resources, and other related disciplines from teams of natural resource professionals, Hoge said.
"We spend a week in the woods climbing and identifying trees," she said.
About forestry boards
The Carroll County Forestry Board is a member of The Maryland Association of Forest Conservancy District Boards. There is a local forestry board in each county of the state and in Baltimore City.
Members of the boards are appointed by the director of the Maryland Forest Service. The forestry boards work to promote the stewardship, conservation and sustainable use of Maryland's rural and urban forest resources, protection of local water resources and the Chesapeake Bay, and to provide forest conservation information, and educational opportunities to local citizens.
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For more information about the Maryland forestry boards, visit http://www.marylandforestryboards.org.