Locals sweep environmental excellence awards in county resident category


Credit: Fairfax County

Fairfax County recently announced the winners of its 2022 Environmental Excellence Awards, and both honorees in the “Individual County Resident” category are from around the Richmond Highway corridor.

For the past six years, landscape architect Elisabeth Lardner has volunteered her time as chair of the Civic Association of Hollin Hills’ Park Committee. Lardner, who is stepping down from the position later this month according to the civic association's newsletter, has been a steward of more than 30 acres of shared community parkland and a community liaison for two major stream restoration/storm water management projects in Hollin Hills.

Elisabeth Lardner (left of center) joins Mount Vernon Supv. Dan Storck, Civic Association of Hollin Hills Chair Patrick Kelly and other stakeholders in cutting the ribbon at Brickelmaier and Goodman Parks on Nov. 19, 2022.

At the Dec. 6 Board of Supervisors meeting, Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck praised Lardner as “a phenomenal force in the Hollin Hills community.”

The other honoree, Will Friedman, is a senior at West Potomac High School who has been active for several years with environmental initiatives, including cleanups, stream monitoring, invasive plant removal, tree planting and trash/recycling-related projects. Earlier this year, Friedman picked up a 2021 Friends of Trees award from the county.

Will Friedman (left) and Cathy Ledec (right) plant at a tree at Carl Sandburg MS (Credit: George Ledec)

“Will has a bright future environmentally,” said Storck, noting that Friedman has been “involved in anything to do with the environment.”

Friedman answered several questions from On the MoVe
regarding his activism.

Q: How long have you been involved with environmental sustainability, and what are some examples of the activities you've done for various organizations?

A: I began participating in stream monitoring and neighborhood cleanups in elementary school, where I received a certificate for volunteering over 100 hours. I started an Eco-Club at Carl Sandburg Middle School with the support of my teacher and principal. That led to an interest in tree plantings and preservation, invasive plant identification and removal, recycling, organic farming/gardening, and contributing to local newsletters on topics such as recycling, our Purple Can glass collection, and invasives.

Q: What/who motivated you to get active on the environmental front?

A: A desire to live in a healthier environment and give back to my community continues to motivate me. My mother is a Fairfax Master Naturalist, and I have been fortunate enough to volunteer for all of the local Friend's groups: Friends of Accotink Creek, Friends of Dyke Marsh, Friends of Huntley Meadows Park, Friends of Little Hunting Creek, and Friends of Mason Neck State Park. These friend groups have volunteers dedicated to educating, preserving, and protecting our parks. Also, Mrs. Cathy Ledec, a former county resident on Supervisor Stock's Environmental Advisory Committee, mentored me.

Q: What are your future education/career interests or plans if you have them already?

A: I have been accepted to VA Tech as a first-year cadet to the College of Natural Resources and Environment class of 2027. Go Hokies.

Q: What are some ways local students can get involved in helping out?

A: Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer.

I would start with your school and the FCPS Get2Green NWF Eco School program https://get2green.fcps.edu/, sign up with Volunteer Fairfax https://www.volunteerfairfax.org/, stream monitoring with NVSWCD https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/soil-water-conservation/volunteer-stream-monitoring. Plant NOVA Natives Tree Rescue has a great program that is easy for students https://www.plantnovatrees.org/tree-rescuers-volunteer-program. Scroll to the bottom of this link for several FCPA park links https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/volunteer. Work in the gardens at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture http://arcadiafood.org/volunteer-opportunities and ask about the possibility of a garden at your school. All of the Friends groups mentioned above have websites. If these parks aren't close to you, find the ones that are. If you want to work on your own, organize a neighborhood cleanup, or offer to take your neighbor's glass to the Purple Can. Finally, you can educate yourself on the critters and plants that make their home in our county and ways you can protect them. https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/publicworks/field-guide.

Start small and dream big.

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