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Kunkletown woman recognized for environmental leadership

  • Special to the TIMES NEWS Diane Husic
    Special to the TIMES NEWS Diane Husic
Published October 07. 2010 05:00PM

A Monroe County woman is the recipient of a national conservation fellowship that will allow her to fulfill her mission to help Pennsylvanians and others learn how to become citizen scientists.

Diane Husic is one of 40 individuals nationwide selected as a 2010 TogetherGreen Fellow. Supported by a conservation alliance of Audubon and Toyota, the TogetherGreen Fellowship offers specialized training in conservation planning and execution, the chance to work and share best practices with gifted conservation professionals, and assistance with project outreach and evaluation. Each Fellow receives $10,000 toward a community-focused project to engage local residents in conserving land, water and energy, and contributing to greater environmental health.

Husic is using her TogetherGreen Fellowship to get people who aren't trained scientists involved in a project focused on phenology - the study of plant and animal life cycles, such as flowers blooming, trees budding, or insects emerging.

Collecting such data can make an invaluable contribution to science and conservation demonstrating how the environment is changing, and can be done by people of all ages linking them to their history, environment, and neighbors. The plan will include creating a series of lessons for educators and organizing a network of citizen scientists to systematically monitor ecological events and key species, and to mine historical records.

Husic is currently the chairperson of the Department of Biology at Moravian College. A National Science Foundation grant led her to the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and the Palmerton Superfund site revitalization project where she conducts research and habitat enhancement while reaching out to local youth and adults.

"Diane is the kind of person who can make a real difference in the health of our environment and the quality of our future," said Audubon President David Yarnold. "Each of our TogetherGreen Fellows demonstrates exceptional environmental understanding and commitment combined with tremendous potential to inspire and lead others. Together they represent the talented and diverse leadership the environmental community will need to tackle the huge challenges and opportunities confronting us today and in the years to come."

"This fellowship provides a rare opportunity to network with an inspirational cadre of conservation leaders who have innovative ideas about conservation and environmental education," said Husic. "I hope to tap this array of expertise as I work with regional K-12 teachers, college students, and staff from environmental education centers and state parks to incorporate phenology concepts and activities into curricula and event programming. Teaching about environmental problems in a classroom can be depressing for both the audience and instructor. However, by getting people into the field and making important contributions to environmental science research, they not only have fun, but realize that science can be approachable and that they can make a positive difference on this planet."

Husic has been working with the Lehigh Gap Nature Center since 2005. Half of the TogetherGreen Fellows come from within Audubon's far-reaching national network - half channel their environmental efforts through other organizations.

Husic received her B.S. in biochemistry from Northern Michigan University and her Ph.D. in biochemistry from Michigan State University. She currently sits on the boards of the Lehigh Gap Nature Center and the Lehigh Valley Audubon Society chapter. Husic is the immediate past-president of the Council on Undergraduate Research and often partners with colleagues to create unique education methods, such as when she took a delegation of students and alumni to Copenhagen to attend the climate summit, where they met inspiring environmental heroes and Nobel Prize winners from around the globe.

Fellowship recipients were chosen from a large pool of highly qualified individuals. All were required to have at least six years of experience in conservation, environmental education, policy, or related issues; a demonstrated passion for conservation and a proven track record of reaching previously underserved audiences. Applicants also need to express a desire to learn and grow. An advisory committee composed of conservation professionals and experts in environmental education, communications, outreach, and conservation planning made selections.

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