County Executive's Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award

In 1998 Rockland County established the County Executive Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award to recognize individuals for their contributions & achievements in preserving the County’s natural resources.

The County Executive's Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award recognizes environmental volunteers who care for our parks, champion our watershed programs, encourage waste reduction, and enhance the beauty of Rockland's natural environment.

To be eligible to receive the award an individual must be at least 18 years of age and a Rockland County resident. Individuals who have been nominated in the past, but not chosen, are eligible to be re-nominated.

The 2022 recipient is Harriet D. Cornell for her volunteer work as a board member on the Hudson Valley Greenway Conservancy and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. She is most notably known for her decades of service on the Rockland County Legislature, serving as the first woman to chair the Legislature. Her work in the Legislature has also enabled the involvement of dozens of volunteer organizations and hundreds of local volunteers, most recently hosting a virtual meeting about PFOA and PFOS as part of her efforts with the Rockland Task Force on Water Resources Management. She also most recently helped with the re-establishment of the Open Space Acquisition Program. The County Executive is pleased to honor Harriet D. Cornell with the 25th annual County Executive Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award.

2021 Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award Winner

The Rockland County Division of Environmental Resources, County Executive's Office and Award Review Committee are pleased to announce Gale Pisha as the 24th County Executive's Environmental Volunteer Award recipient.


"While we have faced many challenges this year, one of the unexpected benefits of our situation is that many more residents are exploring our county parks and other natural environments that they may not have taken the time to visit in the past," said County Executive Ed Day. "This year's winner, Gale Pisha, has adapted to our challenges with 'virtual hikes' and 'campfires.'"

The virtual events developed by Gale have seen dozens of participants join together online after a day of safe and socially distant hikes to share experiences, tips on places to explore and foster a deeper connection to each other and to nature.

"Gale's leadership was instrumental in defeating the proposed desalinization plant in Haverstraw that would have taken drinking water from the Hudson River. More recently she has served as Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter where she focuses on reviewing new legislation and helps to set statewide priorities for the 54,000-member group," said County Executive Day. "And while Gale is deeply involved in statewide issues, she takes that experience and knowledge and applies it here at home."

A serviceberry tree was planted in her honor at Kennedy Dells County Park.


Outstanding Environmental Volunteer Award Winner Gale Pisha spoke to the connection between the environment and all major sectors of life urging that, "we as officials, activists, and citizens must keep in mind the environmental relationships to everything else both in our personal lives and societal decisions as we act each day."

Legislator Harriet Cornell, Chairwoman of the Environmental Committee of the Rockland County Legislature presented Gale with a Distinguished Service Award and said, "Gale epitomizes the best and most dedicated of community volunteers and has a wonderful sense of humor as well. She lives and breathes environmental stewardship, with never a thought of public recognition for herself. What an honor to know and applaud her!"

"Gale is known for her patience and willingness to listen to every viewpoint, even with the most complicated and murky situations. Rockland and all of New York State are extremely lucky to have a leader and advocate like Gale Pisha watching out for our natural environment. And so, on behalf of the people of Rockland, and the future generations of Rocklanders to come, I thank you for your dedication and hard work preserving and protecting this County," concluded County Executive Day.

Photos of the ceremony are available upon request. Video of the ceremony is available on the Rockland County Government Facebook page: and has been posted for viewing to the Rockland County Government YouTube channel:

Examples of activities performed by previous winners:

  • Creating place-based art and science programming
  • Keeping roadways and parks free of litter and trash
  • Creating and expanding parks and preserves
  • Protecting environmentally sensitive wetlands and woods
  • Researching and advocating for water quality
  • Bridging diverse points of view on environmental issues
  • Promoting sustainability
  • Advancing reduction, reuse, and recycling
  • Founding and leading environmental action committees and coalitions
  • Reducing school bus idling to protect young lungs
  • Developing an integrated pest management program
  • Serving on the County’s Environmental Management Council

Previous Winners

Diane Gruskin
Jean and Robert Nelson
Martus Granire
Geoffrey Welch
Catherine Dodge
John LaPlaca
George Zoebelein
Alberto Baruffi
Laurie Seeman
Colleen and Harold Leidy
Patsy Wooters
Margie Turrin
Zipporah Fleisher
Bill Baker

Tim Sanders 

Betty Hedges
George Potanovic, Jr.

Gale Pisha

Charles Schwep
Peggy Kurtz
Dr. Constantine Gletsos
Deborah Munitz
S.Hazard Gillespie
Grace Meyer