Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam: first conservationist to receive Presidential Citizens Award

Examiner.com
Thursday, August 5, 2010

First conservationist to receive Presidential Citizens Award.

August 4, 1:34 PM,  by Environmental Policy ExaminerJean Williams

On August 4, President Obama rewarded 13 citizens with the prestigious honor of receiving the 2010 Presidential Citizens Award.

The awards were started in 1969 under President Nixon and have been given to such notable people as Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali, and Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

But mostly, the awards have been received by people whose names are not household names.

Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam has been a conservationist for over 50 years. She is the first conservationist to receive the Presidential Citizens Award, but she has received numerous other honors for her environmental work with students over the years.

Ms. Putnam established the Student Conservation Association, which has become the nation’s largest youth conservation leadership, with an annual participation of 4,000 students across the country, who give more than 2 million hours of voluntary conservation services. They engage in protection and restoration of the nation’s parks, forests, nature reserves, and seashores. Many go on to conservation careers working in national parks.

Elizabeth wrote:

This fragile earth is hurting. Young people today have so many serious challenges that need to be faced head on. I believe it is vitally important for the young to realize they can each do something positive with their lives-that they can go for their dream whatever that is. This world needs their help more than ever before. We all are needed to work together for the future of this planet.

Student Conservation Association also works with national parks, and members serve sites within the US Forest Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Army Corps of Engineers and other federal agencies, hundreds of state parks, and green spaces in dozens of major cities. SCA’s Milwaukee program was recently named by the U.S. Conference of Mayors as one of America’s six “best practices in green jobs for youth.”

“Liz Putnam is both a giant and pioneer in the conservation field,” states SCA Chair Jane Goedecke. “Her vision helped seed what we now call ‘national service.’ She recognized young people as a powerful solution to our country’s growing ecological stresses. And today, with so many children disconnected from nature, Liz’s SCA is more relevant than ever.”

According to Kevin Hamilton, Vice President of Communications at SCA, Ms. Putnam has also received President Ronald Reagan’s Volunteer Action Award, the Cornelius Amory Pugsley Medal for contributions to public parks, and the Rachel Carson Leadership Award, among many other honors.

“Serving nature is among the most important and rewarding callings humankind can ever know,” said Putnam. “I am grateful to President Obama and humbled by this honor. I share it with all the young women and men of the Student Conservation Association, whose hands-on service protects our public lands and lifts our people’s hearts.”

Elizabeth resides with her husband, Bruce, in Shaftsbury, VT.

Have questions for Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam? Examiner.com will be holding exclusive interviews with the medal winners. Submit your questions here.