Carbon County Conservation District, Carbon/Monroe Farm Service Agency, Carbon/Monroe Natural Resource Conservation Service and Penn State Cooperative Extension combined forces to host their annual awards banquet on Tuesday evening at the Mahoning Valley Ambulance building.

Paul Shealer, Carbon County Extension director, served as master of ceremonies.

Shealer said that the annual banquet allows agencies to thank the people who help make their projects so successful throughout the year.

After a hearty meal served by the Mahoning Valley Ambulance staff, the presentation of awards began with awarding the Rachel W. Hoffmeier 4-H Scholarship award to Amanda Windbeck, daughter of Michael and Denise Windbeck by Monroe Cressley, president of the Penn State Cooperative Extension board and Georgia Farrow, 4-H assistant for Penn State Cooperative Extension. Windbeck is a member of the Mahoning Valley Community Club. She is a senior at Lehighton Area High School and intends to become a pharmacist.

The Rachael W. Hoffmeier 4-H Scholarship Award was established as a memorial to Rachel W. Hoffmeier, a former Extension Home Economist, and recognizes a 4-H member who is interested in self-improvement.

Farrow and Cressley then recognized two 4-H leaders with the presentation of the Outstanding 4-H Leader awards. Recognized were Renee Schoch and Jan Wentz, both of Lehighton.

Several leaders were also presented Years of Service awards. Honored were: Bonnie Michael, Weatherly, 20 years; Miles Hearn and Sandra Palinchak, both of Lehighton, 10 years; Vickie Malloy of Lehighton, five years; and one year awards were presented to Donna Asbrock, Lorraine Boyles and Kerre Moore, all of Albrightsville; Diane Conner. Christiania Graver and Kaitlin Malinoski, all of Lehighton; and Sandra Potter of Jim Thorpe.

Carbon County Conservation District honored Cloverdale Farms for "being an outstanding farm family and good stewards of the land," and honored the Carbon County Mapping Department for their outstanding support to the Carbon County Conservation District. Accepting the award for Cloverdale Farms were Blake and Bill Gregory and accepting for the Carbon County Mapping Department was Larry Stawiarski.

Under the Carbon County Conservation District is the Carbon County Environmental Education Center and they had their own awards to present. The CCEEC staff, Frank Klock and Jeannie Carl recognized Barbara Miller as the 2009 Volunteer of the Year "for her sincere and selfless desire to help wildlife in distress" and Ben Warren as the 2009 Educator of the Year "for his true passion for raptors, and an ability to inspire the same in children."

Miller has undertaken the role of transporting injured animals to the CCEEC for treatment.

"I get involved when people interfere with wild animals and they are hurting," said Miller. "It is a small thing for me to transport them to the center for treatment." Carl said Miller's "animal taxi" has taken a burden off the CCEEC when they cannot get to the animals.

Miller had high praise for the CCEEC for their role in helping prevent suffering by the wild animals.

Warren said that his passion for the CCEEC helps him inspire his students.

"Without the CCEEC, I could not do half of what I do," said Warren.

Also honored with a certificate of appreciation was Evalynn Kuehner, who was a great support of the Prosper Project. The award was presented by Mindy Graver, family living/family resiliency educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension.

"Every time I looked at the reports of what was happening with the Proper Program and Safe Kids, I came across the name of Evalynn," said Graver.

James Carroll, district chairman and James Clauser, district manager, both of the Carbon County Conservation District, honored Robert McCombs for 30 years of service and Clark Schoenberger for 15 years of service.

Also recognized were outgoing Penn State Extension Board members. Shealer presented certificates to Maureen Althouse, Lehighton; Bonnie Michael, Weatherly; and Daniel Schoenberger, Palmerton and welcome incoming board members, Robin Cressley of Lehighton, Julie Foley of Albrightsville and Terry Warnagiris of Weatherly.