Cuyahoga Valley National Park Stands Apart in Habitat Restoration & Environmental Education

Every day, Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP) and Conservancy staff are working for you: to engage children with their national park and get the community active in preserving the Cuyahoga Valley.

That’s why we’re excited to share the news that five CVNP program leaders received awards from the National Park Service last month: for the park’s volunteer habitat restoration program, and for education programs at the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center. The awards honor staff members from among the country’s 417 national park sites.

Below, see how Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Conservancy staff are helping these areas, with Conservancy member and donor support!

Stewarding CVNP with the Community

The Conservancy’s vision is to connect people to their national park and preserve it for future generations. In partnership with the National Park Service—as well as with donors, members, volunteers, and advocates like YOU—we’re working toward that vision every day.

Recently, Park Ranger Josh Bates, Conservancy Director of Volunteer Services Jamie Walters, and Plant Biologist Chris Davis were honored with the Achieving Relevance in Public Engagement and Resource Stewardship Award for the Midwest Region of the NPS.

This team of park and Conservancy staff work together to coordinate and host volunteer events where community members can plant native trees and remove invasive species to improve the natural habitat of the valley. Restoring this natural balance helps improve animal habitats, prevent flooding and erosion, and reduce the effects of climate change.

Park Ecologist Chris Davis shows volunteers how to plant trees at a Day of Service (Photo: Melanie Nesteruk)


Due to their dedication to habitat restoration and conservation awareness, this team was also selected as the national award winner, among all national park sites! The national winners will be recognized at a virtual awards ceremony the afternoon of Wednesday, April 26.

Jamie Walters (right) and several volunteers helping to restore native habitat in CVNP (Photo: NPS/D.J. Reiser)


Josh, Jamie, and Chris have created an extensive program that engages students, youth groups, and the general public. The program has grown in the past seven years to engage over 2,500 people in 2016, who helped remove invasive plants and plant native trees.

Ranger Josh Bates explains the day’s plan to Day of Service volunteers (Photo: Melanie Nesteruk)


Days of Service and Habitat Restoration Drop-ins are events where the public can join in on the effort. Habitat Restoration drop-in events will take place twice per month this summer. Learn more >

“This [program] is a testament to all of the volunteers,” says Ranger Josh. “This award is an honor to all of [the volunteers] that have helped us to do all the great work that we’ve been able to do so far.”


Educating Youth in Cuyahoga Valley National Park

In addition to get community volunteers engaged with habitat restoration, CVNP and the Conservancy are continually striving to connect youth with the national park and all its treasures. Donor and volunteer support help the Cuyahoga Valley Environmental Education Center serve over 9,000 youth each year.

Last month, Education Specialist Heather Berenson and Education Center Program Manager Amanda Schuster were honored with the Achieving Relevance in Education Award for the Midwest Region. This award is given in recognition for their demonstrated passion for educating “at risk” high school students through environmental literacy and creating a strong bond between the park and community.

Amanda Schuster on the CVEEC campus, where 9,000 youth experience CVNP each year


Each year, Heather and Amanda host the Summer Environmental Education Academy for students of Akron Public Schools and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. Through this immersive academic program, rising ninth graders at risk of not graduating high school learn about the park’s natural resources and get a jump-start on high school science. Upon completion of the program, APS students earn 0.5 high school credits.

Heather Berenson shows CVEEC students how to use binoculars


We’re tremendously grateful to all our members, donors, volunteers, and park advocates who help make the Conservancy’s work possible for Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Thank you! We are so thankful for each and every one of you.


Learn more about volunteering in CVNP >