Maine Woods Forever seeking nominations for new Teddy Roosevelt conservation award

In an effort to recognize the state’s young conservationists, Maine Woods Forever has recently rolled out the new Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award, and their looking for nominations for the award’s first recipient.

where102714-16“What [the recipient] does for conservation could be a huge number of things,” said John Rust, a board member of Maine Woods Forever and the chairman of this effort. “It could be someone who built bog bridges or worked on eroding hiking trails or someone who did some trout habitat work. It could be in the big woods, or it could be in the local community forest.”

Nominees must be age 10 through high school or a youth organization thats conservation projects primarily involve youths of these ages. Deadline for nominations is Jan. 15, and the first recipient will be announced in March.

Maine Woods Forever plans to give the award out annually to recognize young Mainers and youth groups whose efforts are in the spirit of Roosevelt’s conservation ethic and achievements.

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States, is one of the nation’s most celebrated conservationist as a champion for the national park system. As President from 1901 to 1909, he signed legislation establishing five national parks, as well as the Antiquities Act, which enabled his successors to proclaim historic landmarks and structures in federal ownership as national monuments.

katahdinlakeview2“Many credit [Roosevelt’s] rugged sojourns in Maine during the late 1800s with shaping his determination to conserve our natural world,” stated Rust in a press release about the new award.

When Roosevelt was 19 and a student in Boston, his family sent him to Maine for some fresh air and activity outside the big city.

“Throughout those outdoor experiences — which included hiking Katahdin and hunting — he really changed during that time frame from a sort of sickly city kid to a can-do, will-do, nothings-going-to-stop-me kind of person,” Rust said. “And he really got this thorough sense of awareness in the value of the outdoors.”

Andrew Vietze, author of “Becoming Teddy Roosevelt,” agrees. In the book, he wrote: “It’s fair to say that Maine was a crucible of sorts for Roosevelt and that many of the seeds of conservation that he would go on to plant – establishing our national parks system, monuments, wildlife and recreation preserves – were sown right here when he was an impressionable young man.”

Nominations for the Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award will be judged by members of the Maine Woods Forever Board of Directors.

maine-woods-logoCelebrating its 10th anniversary this year, Maine Woods Forever is a nonprofit organization aiming to foster collaborations between people and organizations that are working to conserve Maine forest. In the first decade of its existence, the organization has held regular roundtable meetings that have included more than 80 organizations to discuss collaborative conservation efforts. Maine Woods Forever also led in the mapping of the Thoreau-Wabanaki Trail, which follows the path of Thoreau’s nineteenth century travels with Penobscot guides.

“We’re trying to create more awareness and enthusiasm for the woods, whether it’s through forestry or preservation, hunting, paddling, fishing or camping,” Rust said.

People spending time at the point that the "vista" side trail leads to.

BDN photo by Aislinn Sarnacki. People spending time on Flagstaff Lake.

“With all outdoor activities, recruiting younger people always seems to be a struggle,” he continued. “The question always is, ‘How do we get kids outside? How do you get people into hunting, camping, canoeing?’ We’re trying to recognize those people and organizations that do this.”

The award will likely be in the form of a plaque, Rust said, and will be presented either at a Maine Woods Forever roundtable meeting or a special school or organization event. It is possible that Maine Woods Forever will give out more than one award, depending on the applications received.


  • The Teddy Roosevelt Maine Conservation Award will be given to youths or youth organizations who demonstrate a commitment to Maine’s forests and woodlands, and whose accomplishments.
  • Effectively working alone or with others in educating others on the importance of conserving Maine’s forests and woodlands, large and small.
  • Outstanding contributions toward conserving Maine forests and woodlands.
  • Leadership in a local, regional or statewide project that increased awareness by the public at large of a significant issue relating to Maine’s forests and woodlands.
  • Educating and increasing public awareness of the heritage of the Maine woods.
  • Improving the quality of life in Maine woods-dependent communities.
  • Fostering increased appreciation of Maine Woods resources.
  • Fostering stewardship of private forestland.
  • Fostering or supporting a conservation organization or foundation seeking to conserve large tracts of land and the indigenous wildlife.
  • Forming or fostering alliances between conservation organizations.
  • Making improvements in the quality of conservation and/or conservation education.
  • Special attention will be paid to unsung nominees who have achieved success not otherwise recognized. Weight will be given to leadership qualities demonstrated by inspiring others to participate or influencing conservation and education practices.
  • Examples of projects considered might include: an assigned school project or an extracurricular project focused on forest land use; a conservation management program; environmental stewardship; resource management; a focus on related wildlife issues – how to maintain wildlife habitat including fauna and flora in a specific locale or region; or a current topic of statewide environmental or forest conservation significance such as the effects of industrial wind sites, the East West corridor, easements on forest lands, hard rock mining, etc.


  • Must involve activities within Maine
  • Must be age 10 through High School (applicants older than 18 are acceptable if still attending High School) or youth organizations whose conservation projects primarily involve youths of these ages.



Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at