On Thursday, December 16, 2021, the Maryland Department of Planning presented its Leadership and Service Award to Rosa Hance of the Southern Maryland Sierra Club. An Honorable Mention award was also given to Jason Groth of Charles County in this same category, with the Preservation and Conservation Award being given to J. C. Parks Elementary School Grounds Department in Indian Head.
The three recipients of the awards were all nominated by Maryland State Senator Arthur Ellis of the 28th Legislative District who is a strong advocate for conservation and the environment in Charles County.
Hance, who was unanimously elected as the youngest female Chapter Chair in Maryland Sierra Club history this past year, has been a member of the club since 2016 when she began focusing on projects and policies in Charles, St. Mary’s, and Calvert Counties
Senator Ellis noted that Hance, since “…for almost half a decade been a tireless advocate for sustainable land use, development, and community policies throughout the state.”
Hance pointed out that her husband, Ben, and two young children have been at her side for many of her environmental activities, including her project for planting 1,000 trees in Southern Maryland.
This past October, her group of volunteers reached a milestone with this project when they planted the 300th tree at Bensville Park in Charles County.
Jason R. Groth, Deputy Director of the Charles County Department of Planning and Growth Development, was cited for his “lasting, positive impact on the operations, culture and work ethic of the staff of the Charles County Department of Planning & Growth Management while improving the customer experience of the citizens and business community”.
Senator Ellis said that one of Groth’s greatest achievements to date is his “…leadership in actualizing the County’s interests to complete the Project Planning Phase of the Southern Maryland Rapid Transit (SMRT) Project, including the acquisition of funding sources.”
J. C. Parks Elementary School received the Preservation and Conservation Award for its decade-long conservation project that started in 2011 when it began converting the grounds into a watershed for adjoining wetlands.
With the assistance of its students and over 100 public service organizations and individuals, and a $100,000 contribution from the Lowe’s Charitable and Education Fund, along with $37,000 in Chesapeake Bay Trust Grants, the school added gardens and 4,250 native plants to allow the water to soak into the land and slow the speed of the water traveling to the wetlands.
The school also added an arboretum containing over 250 native trees and plants and transformed the school’s outdoor turf into outdoor classrooms and gardens that improved water runoff and allowed the growth of local produce that has been shared in the community.
The project also rechanneled water from the paved surfaces of a nearby middle school.
The school’s principal is Principal G. Miller.