Delaware State Parks Wins National Competition for Excellence

Gov. John Carney announced Tuesday that Delaware State Parks won the prestigious 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, which Delaware also won in 2015. The award is given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration with the National Recreation and Park Association. Pictured with the 2021 Gold Medal Grand Plaque, from left to right, are the Delaware State Parks staff who worked on the award application: Shauna McVey, public information officer; Joe Ulrich, photography/videography manager; Laura Parks, land preservation technician; Martina Adams, special project coordinator; and Elena Stewart, land preservation specialist; and DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation Director Ray Bivens; Gov. Carney; along with Parks section leaders Greg Abbott, manager of Administrative Services; Matt Ritter, manager of Planning, Preservation and Development; and Grant Melville, manager of Operations, Maintenance and Programming; and DNREC Deputy Secretary Lisa Borin Ogden. DNREC photo.

 

Gov. John Carney joined Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin today to announce that DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation has won the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) and National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) 2021 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management. This is the second time Delaware’s state parks received this prestigious award, having won it previously in 2015.

In May, Delaware, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas state parks systems were selected as finalists in the State Parks Division. This biennial Gold Medal award has only been given 13 times since its establishment in 1997. Delaware and Florida are the only state park systems to win the award more than once.

“To be awarded the National Gold Medal is a testament to the dedication of the Division of Parks and Recreation and our state’s natural and cultural resources,” said Governor Carney. “Delaware State Parks provide refuge for millions of Delawareans and visitors each year, and were critical to the public’s mental and physical health as we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations to the Division on this well-deserved national honor.”

“Our entire state is incredibly proud of this significant national recognition of Delaware’s first class park system,” Secretary Garvin said. “I get the opportunity to see daily that the passion, dedication and commitment of the Division of Parks and Recreation team (staff, volunteers and partners) that is second to none in stewardship of our award-winning state parks.”

This year is also the 70th anniversary of Delaware State Parks. The division does not know the exact factors that set Delaware apart in the competition, but believes multiple items played into being selected as the 2021 Gold Medal state park system. Under the leadership of Director Ray Bivens, the Delaware State Parks system has seen tremendous growth and broken records in numerous areas, including camping/cabin stays, volunteer hours, park attendance and revenue. Bivens, named Delaware’s eighth state park director in 2013, received the 2021 National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD) Conference Distinguished Service Award Sept. 10 during the NASPD’s annual conference. Other distinctions that undoubtedly contributed to the Gold Medal recognition include:

  • Delaware State Parks welcomes more than 6 million guests annually and has seen record breaking growth during the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, campground nights booked grew by 57% from 70,880 nights in 2012 to 111,376 nights in 2020.
  • The division is committed to innovation, including creative public private partnerships such as the Fort Miles Museum, Big Chill Beach Club and the establishment of Auburn Valley State Park from one of the most contaminated and flood-prone sites in the state.
  • The division’s impact on the economy includes support for more than 6,000 jobs through concessionaire and partnership agreements.
  • The economic impact of visitors to the state includes $319 million in spending generated from Cape Henlopen, Killens Pond, Lums Pond, Delaware Seashore and Trap Pond state park campgrounds.
  • Despite being 20 times smaller than any other finalist state, Delaware boasts a diverse and robust state park system featuring ocean parks like Fenwick, Delaware Seashore and Cape Henlopen, urban parks such as Wilmington, Alapocas and Bellevue, historic parks such as Fort Delaware and First State Heritage Park and a variety of other amenities including Deerfield and Garrison’s Lake golf courses, Brandywine Zoo, Killens Water Park and the Indian River Marina.

“Our 2021 Gold Medal recipients show a remarkable resilience as well concern for their constituents and staff in continuing to provide critical services during this COVID pandemic,” said AAPRA Executive Director Jane H. Adams. “The pandemic has shed light on the essential services provided by park and recreation agencies.”

Agencies are judged on their ability to address the needs of those they serve through the collective energies of community members, staff members and elected officials. The National Gold Medal Awards program, sponsored by Musco Lighting, LLC, honors communities in the United States that demonstrate excellence in parks and recreation through long-range planning, resource management, volunteerism, environmental stewardship, program development, professional development and agency recognition.

The award is given in coordination by the AAPRA with the National Recreation and Park Association. To learn more about the Gold Medal Awards, visit www.aapra.org.

Additional photos are available for download and publication at this link.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation oversees more than 26,000 acres in 17 state parks and the Brandywine Zoo. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Shauna McVey, shauna.mcvey@delaware.gov or Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov.

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DNREC Announces Photo Contest Winners

“Winter Hike at Dusk Near the Marsh” by James Blackstock

Contest Highlights Woodland Beach Wildlife Area

From May through mid-August, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control invited photographers and nature lovers to submit their best photographs taken on the Tony Florio Woodland Beach Wildlife Area and the adjoining Aquatic Resources Education Center (AREC) near Smyrna. Now the results are in for this new annual contest.

Winter beach
“Winter Tide” by Aurelia Thomas
(Under 13)

To increase public awareness of the natural wonders of AREC and the surrounding wildlife area, children and adults were encouraged to visit the area to take and submit photographs of aquatic life, birds and other wildlife, scenic landscapes, and people enjoying the outdoors. The peaceful, scenic area is a destination along the Delaware Bayshore Byway that features two fishing ponds, trails, and a raised boardwalk with vistas across the tidal salt marsh to Delaware Bay.

Entries were accepted in three categories: birds, nature and people enjoying nature; and in three age groups: children under age 13, teens ages 13 to 18 and adults age 19 and older.

The 2021 winners are:

Children under age 13:
Nature — “Winter Tide” by Aurelia Thomas
Birds — “Portrait of a Blue Grosbeak” by Wyatt Humphreys

Teens ages 13 to 18:
Nature — “Rain Drops on Leaf” by Bella McDannell

Adults 19 and older:
Birds — “Ringed-neck Duck” by Sherry Abbott
Enjoying Nature — “A Different Perspective” by David S. Vallee
Nature — “Winter Hike at Dusk Near the Marsh” by James Blackstock

Winning photos are posted on the DNREC website and featured in DNREC’s Outdoor Delaware online magazine, de.gov/outdoorde. Judging was based on how well the photos represent the following criteria: things you can see and do at the Woodland Beach Wildlife Area, originality/creativity and universal appeal. The judging panel included DNREC educators at the Aquatic Resources Education Center.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Youth Fishing Tournament Results Announced

Young anglers statewide submitted their biggest catches for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s 35th annual Youth Fishing Tournament, held June 5 at more than 30 public freshwater fishing ponds as a fish-on-your-own, semi-virtual event for children ages four through 15.

Tournament participants measured and submitted the length of their catches through the Fishing Chaos app to compete for the title of overall state winner with the biggest fish. The title went to Kane Messina of Millsboro, who caught a bass measuring 21 inches long. Big fish results also included:

  • Largest largemouth bass:
    • First place: 21 inches long, Kane Messina, Millsboro
    • Second place: 16.5 inches long, Evie Whaley, Bridgeville
    • Third place: 16.25 inches long, Cohen Betts, Milton
  • Largest chain pickerel: first place, 17.5 inches long, Wesley Whitt, Seaford
  • Largest yellow perch:
    • First place: 11 inches long, John Timmons, Georgetown
    • Second place: 7 inches long, Michael Hopkins, New Castle
    • Third place: 5.75 inches long, Austin Alderman, Middletown
  • Largest sunfish:
    • First place: 9.25 inches long, Brinley Douglas, Middletown
    • Second place: 9 inches, Brielle Douglas, Middletown
    • Third place, tie: 8 inches long, Cole Smith, Magnolia; John Timmons, Georgetown; and Colton Wegner, Cave Creek, Ariz.
  • Largest catfish: first place, 8 inches long, Michael Hopkins, New Castle

Winners will each receive a trophy in the near future.

The tournament was established by the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife and is sponsored by the Delaware Natural Resources Police to introduce youth to the sport of fishing and to teach the catch-and-release approach to conservation, which is encouraged for all participants.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife conserves and manages Delaware’s fish and wildlife and their habitats, and provides fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing and boating access on nearly 65,000 acres of public land. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Students Win Contest for Earth Day Videos

Governor Carney and DNREC Secretary Garvin recognize the winners of the 2021 Earth Day video contest. Pictured (from left to right): Governor John Carney, Ethan Fink, Vedic and Iveena Mukherjee, John Doerfler, and Secretary Shawn M. Garvin

Governor John Carney joined DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin today to recognize the student winners from throughout the state who won this year’s Earth Day video contest hosted by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. The contest was launched by DNREC to educate and engage youth about the importance of environmental protection and inspire them to be part of the solution to address climate change.

The contest invited students to produce and submit a 30-second video to answer the question, “What should we be doing to protect and restore our Earth?”

“I am proud of our young people who participated in the DNREC Earth Day video contest,” said Governor John Carney. “They showed us all the ways – small and large – we can protect our planet from picking up trash to investing in renewable energy solutions.”

“Our mission is to protect human health and the environment, and part of that is done through educating the public about our historic, cultural and natural resources,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “By hosting the video contest, we wanted to provide our students a platform to show how they are the environmental stewards of today and for the future. Their videos make clear that they have taken this responsibility to heart through their actions.”

The Earth Day video contest was open to all Delaware students and was judged in three grade categories: K through 4, 5 through 8, and 9 through 12. Judging was based on how well the videos represented the following criteria: message/theme, visual effectiveness, originality/creativity and universal appeal. The judging panel included an educator, a scientist and a videographer.

The winners are:

K to 4: John Doerfler IV, a 10-year-old 4th grader at Love Creek Elementary School in Lewes, for the video “From Little Things, Big Things Grow”

5 to 8: Ethan Fink, a 13-year-old 7th grader at Everett Meredith Middle School in Middletown, for the video “Saving Our Water Saves Our Earth”

9 to 12: Iveena Mukherjee, a 14-year-old 9th grader at the Charter School of Wilmington, for the video “Earning Our Environment”

Each of the videos are posted to the @DelawareDNREC YouTube channel. DNREC also published a highlights video featuring clips from several entries. Each winner received a certificate, a $500 gift card, an annual pass to Delaware State Parks and a prize bag.

 


About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Nikki Lavoie, nikki.lavoie@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

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Champion Crowned in 2021 Junior Solar Sprint

Solar Sprint Winner Aarushi Nayak

Middle School Students Compete in Virtual Event

A Middletown home school student earned the title of 2021 Junior Solar Sprint champion in a virtual competition held Friday.

Each year, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control teams up with the Delaware Technology Student Association for the event. Middle school students work with classmates and teacher advisors over several months to build model cars powered by solar photovoltaic cells, better known as solar panels.

“As we continue to move toward cleaner, renewable energy sources, the competition provides students with an opportunity to demonstrate how we can meet our future energy needs,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “Seeing how your design stacks up against others from around the state is a fun and educational experience that students can learn and grow from.”

This year the competition was altered from past events in that, in addition to designing their solar vehicles, students had to construct a track to competition specifications and record their best times in a video presentation that was also part of the judging.

“Every year we are amazed by the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the students in the Junior Solar Sprint,” said Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy Director Dayna Cobb. “But this year was more impressive by the requirements for the virtual event.”

The Junior Solar Sprint encourages students to engage in problem-solving, teamwork and creative scientific thinking to take on environmental challenges.

Students received points for project portfolios, video presentations of their work, overall design and fastest speed in a timed run. The team accumulating the most points wins and has an opportunity to represent Delaware against other students from around the country in the national TSA conference, which is being held virtually this summer.

In addition to one homeschool team and a team of remote learners, student from Milford Central Academy, Cab Calloway, Postlethwait Middle School, HB duPont and Gauger-Cobbs participated in this year’s virtual event.

Competition Results

The all-around winners for combined speed, design, video and portfolio presentations were:

  • 1st place: Middletown homeschool student Aarushi Nayak
  • 2nd place: Gauger-Cobbs
  • 3rd place: Sussex Academy

Top results from the timed run competition included:

  • 1st place: Gauger-Cobbs
  • 2nd place: Sussex Academy
  • 3rd place: HB duPont

Top results from the design competition included:

  • 1st place: Middletown homeschool student Aarushi Nayak
  • 2nd place: Gauger-Cobbs
  • 3rd place: Sussex Academy

Top results from the video presentation included:

  • 1st place: Milford Central Academy
  • 2nd place: Sussex Academy
  • 3rd. place: Middletown homeschool student Aarushi Nayak

Top results from the portfolio competition:

  • 1st place: Middletown homeschool student Aarushi Nayak
  • 2nd place: Milford Central Academy
  • 3rd place: Cab Calloway

The 2021 Virtual Junior Solar Sprint sponsors include Chesapeake Utilities, Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility and the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation.

Visit the program web page for more information on the Junior Solar Sprint, or to watch a recording of the virtual competition.

About DNREC
The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Climate, Coastal and Energy uses science, education, policy development and incentives to address Delaware’s climate, energy and coastal challenges. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov, Jim Lee, JamesW.Lee@delaware.gov

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