June 7, 2011 — Staunton resident Faye Crawford Cooper has been awarded the 2011 Gerald P. McCarthy Award for Leadership in Environmental Conflict Resolution.
The Institute for Environmental Negotiation at the University of Virginia created the McCarthy Award in 2004 to honor McCarthy, its first recipient, for his efforts to protect and promote environmental literacy and mediation in Virginia. McCarthy is executive director of the Virginia Environmental Endowment.
The award is given to an individual who demonstrates leadership in preservation and protection of the commonwealth's environment; supports collaborative problem-solving through actions, contributions and/or educational programs; and acts as a role model to other groups and individuals for the resolution of environmental issues.
Cooper, a sixth-generation resident of the Shenandoah Valley, has worked in the field of land conservation and natural resource protection for more than 30 years. She served as director of stewardship with the Virginia chapter of The Nature Conservancy and later founded and directed the Valley Conservation Council, a land trust that promotes land-use policies and conservation methods that protect the natural and cultural resources of the Shenandoah Valley region. Cooper also managed the Staunton office of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, where she helped hundreds of landowners secure permanent easement protection for thousands of acres of working farm and forestlands, natural habitat and Civil War battlefields.
Cooper presently serves as the Virginia liaison for the Mid-Atlantic Highlands Action Program, a four-state initiative to build partnerships in communities to conserve and restore the natural resources and ecosystems of the underserved Appalachian region.
She received the award at the graduation dinner for the 2011 class of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute, held June 2 in Charlottesville. The institute is a leadership training program operated by partnering agencies, the Virginia Department of Forestry, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, Virginia Tech's Cooperative Extension and the Institute for Environmental Negotiation.
The annual Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute program consists of six learning sessions in different locations throughout the commonwealth. The program emphasizes personal and professional leadership development; conflict resolution and collaborative problem solving; and knowledge and insight into environmental issues in Virginia.
Steve Talley, program manager for the institute and a longtime friend of Cooper's, said she "embodies all that the McCarthy Award is about. She has worked tirelessly to bring people with different perspectives together to find ways to protect and preserve our natural and cultural resources. Some years ago she, along with other area conservationists, started the conversation about land protection in the Valley of Virginia."
John Eckman, Valley Conservation Council executive director and the person who nominated Cooper for the award said, "Faye has always brought the concept of 'place' into her work, recognizing that natural resources do not exist in isolation – they are embedded in communities with economic and social realities. Places have stories to tell and Faye knows how to listen to the people who have lived on the land for generations. She has a sensibility in working with landowners and other stakeholders that can only be learned by careful attention to a community's life over the years."
For information about the McCarthy Award and the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership program, visit here.