The Conservation Award has been presented to the Ned Smith Center for Nature and Art, spotlighting the many volunteers who have assisted with their projects. John P. Booth, Executive Director of NSCNA, was presented with this award by outgoing PSO Vice President Deb Grove.
The most remarkable projects have been the Northern Saw-whet Owl Project which they have been involved with for the past 25 years. The success of this project is entirely due to the volunteers who catch, band, and release hundreds of these tiny owls at three stations in the central Pennsylvania region during the autumn migration period.
In 2021, the 70 banders and volunteers logged 3,056 hours of research and caught 307 Northern Saw-whet Owls.
This project has illuminated much information on this secretive bird that was once considered rare.
The Ned Smith Center is also the institutional home of Project SNOWstorm, one of the largest and most ambitious Snowy Owl research studies in the world. Since 2013, more than 40 scientists, banders, wildlife veterinarians, and pathologists, have been studying the winter ecology of these huge raptors when they come south from the Arctic. To date, more than 70 Snowy Owls, from the Dakotas to New England, have been tagged with high-tech GPS transmitters, providing an unprecedented look into the biology of these magnificent hunters.
The mission of the Ned Smith Center is to honor the legacy of Ned Smith by merging the arts and natural world through education, exhibition, and experiences.
The center is located at 176 Water Company Road in Millersburg, PA, in Dauphin County.
Concerning the Ned Smith Center, Gary Alt, former biologist for the Pennsylvania Game Commission, states,“We need to connect people, especially children, to the natural world. Anyone who comes to the Center’s wildlife festival in late July and watches the kids, can see they have a natural love for the outdoors. Their enthusiasm and wonder gives you a warm feeling. You know this is right for families and for America.”