Inaugural Environmental Excellence Award Recognizes Dedication (VIDEO)

Town chose two recipients

The original plan for Clarkstown’s called for one recipient. However, that is not how it worked out for the town’s inaugural presentation of the award.

“It was difficult choosing one person for this award, so we chose two,” said Town Board Member Shirley Lasker (D-Upper Nyack). 

Supervisor Alex Gromack (D-Congers) said the award recognized individuals and groups that put the environment at the forefront of their efforts.

Laurie Seeman, partner in the Strawtown Art & Garden Studio in West Nyack and Naomi Camilleri, Rockland Farm Alliance executive director, received the awards at Tuesday night’s board meeting.

Seeman was introduced as a positive person who is constantly moving from one project to another and “connects people to ideas.”  She is an environmental educator, advocate, earth artist, and active in several watershed protection organizations.

Seeman said when you work outdoors you notice nature and not town boundaries.  She learned of the town’s “environmental vision” when she helped plan the children’s Eco Camp at the Environmental Summit earlier this year.  Seeman spoke about the goal of her center’s programs.

“Working with children and helping them find a better connection to their lives is what it’s all about,” she said.

Rockland Farm Alliance (RFA) president John McDowell said Camilleri’s determination made Cropsey Community Farm a reality this year. He explained Camilleri joined the RFA as a volunteer about 18 months ago and was going to film the startup of the farm however she got involved in the planning and organizing and wound up as its executive director.  Thanks to her efforts, he said 200 families are members of the farm and more than 500 children have visited it.

Camilleri said she was grateful to McDowell “for creating an opportunity for people like me to do work that we love towards the betterment of our environment and our communities.”

The county and town own the five-acre New City property where the farm is located.  This is the first year the community farm has grown crops.

“It’s a true example of non partisanship,” said McDowell.

Jo Anne Pedersen, town superintendent of recreation and parks, said the awards being presented were birdhouses with bronze plaques bearing Seeman’s and Camilleri’s names.  The two birdhouses will be placed along the Congers Lake Walking Trail.


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