“Mother of Youth Conservation Movement” Recognized for Lifelong Achievements
(WASHINGTON, DC) February 24, 2016 – Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam, who in 1957 founded the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and sparked the American youth conservation movement, tonight received The Wilderness Society’s Robert Marshall Award at a ceremony in Washington, DC. The Marshall Award, the Society’s highest citizen’s honor, recognizes long-term service to conservation and influence in fostering an American land ethic.
“I am deeply grateful and accept this award on behalf of the SCA’s members and alumni, and all the young people who volunteer to make our world and our wilderness a safer and better place,” Ms. Putnam said.
SCA builds the next generation of conservation leaders by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore the nation’s natural and cultural resources. Independent studies show the SCA experience also fuels participants’ continuous growth and advancement.
To date, more than 80,000 high school, college and graduate students served with SCA in national parks, state forests and municipal green spaces, and 70% of SCA alumni continue to work or study in the conservation field. Additionally, SCA served as the blueprint for many other youth service initiatives including the Department of the Interior’s Youth Conservation Corps, the National Park Service’s Volunteers in Parks (VIP) program, and myriad state and local conservation corps.
Ms. Putnam was a student herself when she conceived of the idea for SCA. In her 1955 Vassar College senior thesis, she proposed a modern day Civilian Conservation Corps in which student volunteers would come to the aid of national parks, where surging visitation rates were outpacing maintenance budgets. Assisted by colleague Martha Hayne Talbot, Ms. Putnam earned the support of oﬃcials both in and out of the National Park Service, and the first SCA volunteers reported to Grand Teton and Olympic National Parks in 1957. Today, SCA members serve federal, state and municipal natural and cultural sites nationwide.
Robert Marshall was an ardent advocate for wilderness and a principal founder of The Wilderness Society. Previous Marshall award recipients include naturalist and adventurer Mardy Murie, Pulitzer Prize winner Wallace Stegner, and author Terry Tempest Williams.
Ms. Putnam is also a recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award, and the National Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Achievement Award, among many other citations. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has referred to Ms. Putnam as “the Mother of the youth conservation movement.”
About The Wilderness Society
The Wilderness Society is the leading public-lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. More at www.wilderness.org.
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