The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced the recipients of its 2022 Barnabas McHenry Hudson Valley Awards, honoring exceptional young leaders who are working to protect and enhance the Hudson River Valley. The projects of the four recipients aim to strengthen and improve communities in the region by improving local composting efforts, supporting historic preservation in the area, capturing the agricultural history of the Hudson Valley and promote community engagement with a variety of area cultural resources.
As part of the OSI program, students partner with nonprofit organizations to develop projects that advance environmental conservation, environmental justice, historic preservation, the arts and tourism in the Hudson Valley.
“The Open Space Institute is glad to support the projects of the four strong applicants,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute. Through their proactive involvement, these students are building relationships and becoming young leaders in their communities. These young people represent the bright future of the Hudson Valley and are adding to Barney McHenry’s amazing legacy of conservation leadership in the region.”
The 2022 recipients of the McHenry Awards are as follows:
Jessica Alonso is working with the Kingston YMCA Farm Project to set up a community-based compost site. The site, located in midtown Kingston near several schools, aims to reduce food waste, build local soil health and serve as an easily accessible education site for local schools interested in teaching about sustainability. The K-town Compost site will also support young environmental leaders by providing training and environmental stewardship experience. Alonso is pursuing an undergraduate business degree from Syracuse University.
Steven Baltsas is working with the Fullerton Mansion Center for Culture and History to create a series of walking tours in Newburgh. The tours will focus on how the community and municipality of Newburgh can work together to prevent historic buildings from falling into disrepair, highlight the social and architectural history of several Newburgh communities, teach attendees how to identify signs that a historical building needs repair and identify some strategies communities can engage in to intervene before a historical structure is lost. The project will create a toolkit of training materials so that similar walking tours can be replicated in other Hudson Valley cities. Baltas is pursuing an Art History and English degree from SUNY New Paltz.
Elizabeth Gannon is working with the Museum Village of Old Smith Clove in Monroe to create a permanent exhibit examining the agricultural history of the Hudson Valley through the use of farming tools. The exhibit will incorporate the stories of women, enslaved people, and other marginalized communities into the area’s environmental history with the goal of shining a light on diverse historical perspectives. Once completed, the exhibit will feature more than 25 different farming artifacts and include an interactive section on how to use various farming implements. Gannon is pursuing a master’s in Arts History from the University at Albany.
Stephanie Napolitano is working in High Falls with the D&H Canal Historical Society on a project called “Supporting Sustainable Engagement and Promoting Local Entrepreneurship Through Pop-Up Events.” The project aims to enhance community use of the Society’s visitor center by scheduling a series of community events in the multi-use visitor center space, including craft demonstrations, short performances and local food tastings. The events will be hosted in partnership with local businesses and nonprofits to promote sustainability and environmental stewardship while highlighting local parks, trails, and tourism activities. Napolitano is pursuing a Communications degree from Marist College.
Over the past 15 years, OSI has committed nearly $336,000.00 to 61 McHenry Award grantees working in support of the Hudson Valley.