Rich Niccum, deputy director at Preservation Parks, accepted the Cardinal Award at the Ohio State Fair.

Courtesy | ODNR

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohioans who have dedicated their lives to the conservation and preservation of Ohio’s natural resources received top honors in July from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Family, friends, and fairgoers watched as Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, ODNR Director Mary Mertz, and other ODNR officials inducted seven people into the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame and awarded seven others with ODNR’s Cardinal Award.

“This is an outstanding group of dedicated Ohioans who have truly made conservation their life mission,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We are proud to recognize them with these high honors, as we hope their passion and major achievements will inspire future generations to help the state’s natural wonders soar to new heights.”

The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame has a long legacy in the state of Ohio. The award was created in 1966 to celebrate individuals who have made significant contributions to protecting Ohio’s natural resources. With the inductions on July 26, the number of people presented with this honor is 193.

Those inducted were Denis Case, D’Arcy Patrick Egan, Tom Kashmer, Paul E. Knoop Jr., Dr. Larry B. Mixon Sr., Eric Partee and Carolyn Watkins.

The Cardinal Award

In addition to the Hall of Fame inductions, ODNR also presented the Cardinal Award to seven Ohioans. The Cardinal Award, created in 1971, honors individuals and organizations that demonstrate exceptional awareness and concern for ideals reflected in the department’s mission statement: To ensure a balance tween the wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.

Cardinal Award recipients have included outdoor writers, educators, farmers, biologists, naturalists, businesses, sporting organizations, and volunteers across the state of Ohio.

This year’s recepients are Preservation Parks of Delaware County, Dave Apsley, Kristen Beck, Burr Oak Alive!, Lola Lewis, Brenda Metcalf and state Sen. Tim Schaffer.

Preservation Parks of Delaware County has pursued a program of vigorously acquiring lands to expand park space in Ohio’s fastest-growing county, and they are committed to protection of natural habitats, conservation of natural resources, restoration of native landscapes, watershed protection, and helping residents connect with the landscape and its natural history. The park system has had an incredible impact on the community, hosting daily seasonal programming for all ages, maintaining 11 local parks and a section of the 326-mile Ohio to Erie Trail, and promoting sustainable lifestyles and activities.

For several years, the Ohio Geological Survey has collaborated with Preservation Parks in the expansion of Shale Hollow Park, ensuring that its significant geological features are preserved and explained to the public. With Preservation Parks’ cooperation, Geological Survey has produced field guides and other educational materials that help in ODNR’s mission.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at

Submitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.