Land Ethics Award

The Land Ethics Award honors and recognizes individuals, organizations, government agencies, community groups and business professionals who have made significant contributions to the promotion of native plants and have exhibited a strong land ethic while promoting sustainable designs that protect the environment.

Nominations may be private individuals, businesses, design professionals including landscape architects and site engineers, conservation and preservation organizations and local, state and federal agencies involved with environmental protection. School groups may also be nominated for relevant team projects.

Application Information

Nominations for the 2017 Land Ethics Award are due January 20, 2017. Award recipients will be selected by a jury of professionals in the field of preservation and conservation. Selections should be made by mid-February 2017. The Land Ethics Award will be presented at the Land Ethics Symposium in March.

Information about judging criteria and nomination details can be found in the 2017 Land Ethics Award Nomination Form below (*note: you may need to save and reopen file to use as a fillable PDF form):

Congratulations to our 2016 Winners

The 2016 Land Ethics Award Winners are:

Public Space Category: Borough of Doylestown Rain Gardens

Group Category: Grubs Ecology, Jamison Elementary School and Central Bucks School District, “Project Put Nature Back”

Residential Category: Hess Landscape Architects, “Philadelphia Farm to Forest” Residential Restoration

Director’s Award: North Creek Nurseries, Inc.

Award of Merit: Weatherwood Design, Petrona Charles Residence

Award of Merit: Pinelands Preservation Alliance

Award of Merit: John Morgan Thomas Landscape Architects, Raab Meadow

Award of Merit: Andropogon Associates, Ltd. & SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Gateway Center

photo courtesy of Longwood Gardens

Public Space Category 2015: Longwood Gardens Meadow Garden Expansion

Spanning 86-acres, the Meadow Garden showcases native plantings and highlights the relationship between the human and natural worlds. Both sustainably managed and visually artistic, the Meadow Garden blends colorful plantings and grand vistas with best practices in land stewardship.

The Land Ethics Award Jury commented that Longwood’s, “large scale Meadow project has it all:  a sweeping landscape, a huge educational component, and the resources to maintain the area.” The judges were particularly impressed by Longwood’s use of corridors to link their meadow habitat to 700 acres of extant natural lands.  The jury also admired the, “innovative learning pavilion where guests can not only view the beauty before them but learn how they can turn their home gardens into sustainable enclaves as well.”

Ozzie Oswald points out a young tulip tree seedling

Group Category 2015: Ralph "Ozzie" Oswald and Buckingham Friends School

Ralph “Ozzie” Oswald and Buckingham Friends School received the Group Award for their work on forest regeneration on the school grounds.  Founded in 1794, Buckingham Friends School in Lahaska, PA is a Quaker day school for grades K-8. The 44 acre campus provides both traditional classroom and outdoor experiential learning. Approximately 30 acres of the site are wooded with a series of marked trails throughout.  

In 2013 the woodlands were suffering due to gypsy moth infestations, disease, aging, torrential rains, Superstorm Sandy, and over-browsing by deer.  Under the leadership of Mr. Oswald, students and community volunteers began work on a 10 year forest regeneration and management plan. They removed invasive plants, implemented erosion control measures, identified and protected young tree seedlings, planted new trees, and installed deer protection fencing. Each grade is assigned an area of campus and a section of trail that they maintain throughout their school career. In the process they study plant life, soil, erosion, and environmental issues. By involving the entire school community in the program, the hope is to have both students and  their parents better understand their environment and aid in its improvement and maintenance.

Residential Category 2015: Jules Bruck and Sue Barton, Applecross

In the residential category, the 2015 Land Ethics Award was presented to Sue Barton and Jules Bruck of the University of Delaware for the Applecross residential demonstration project. The jury commended the project for serving as a model for suburban residential properties. Designed and installed by researchers and students at the University of Delaware, a project goal was to introduce ecosystem services to a typical suburban residential yard, keeping in mind the homeowner’s desire to maintain a sense of community and overall curb appeal. Although the design incorporates a 6,000-square-foot meadow and a 3,000-square-foot reforestation area it maintains enough mowed lawn for play and entertaining. “The idea was to show people that you can incorporate a meadow and a forest into a residential landscape,” said Sue Barton, associate professor of plant and soil sciences at UD. 

 “Almost all the plants are native and they’re quite showy. Sometimes native plants have a connotation of being less formal, less colorful, a compromise, and they’re not a compromise at all. It’s a very dramatic landscape. There’s almost always something blooming,” said Barton. The awards jury was impressed with how this project, “clearly demonstrates what can happen when several partners collaborate to change a sterile home landscape into one of environmental value.”

2014 Land Ethics Awards Recipients

Our three recipients accepted their 2014 Land Ethics Awards at the Preserve's annual Land Ethics Symposium. Recipients were represented by: Linda Haan and Gylla MacGregor (New Jersey Audubon), Peg Prizer (Prizer Design Group) and David Hughes (Weatherwood Design LLC) for Bucks County SPCA, Peter Johnson and Tom Johnston (ThinkGreen LLC) for Haverford Reserve Community Recreation and Environmental Education Center.

Our award recipients were selected by our 2014 Land Ethics Award jury, a group of experts who reviewed each award submission. The jury consisted of: Don Borden (Delaware Valley College; Quercus Studio), James Bray (Lower Makefield Township Environmental Council) and Pam Newitt (Naturalist and Educator).


Notes from the 2014 Land Ethics Award Jury:

What was impressive was the large scope of this project and the importance attached to environmental design parameters.  This LEED certified building touches the land lightly and its sustainable design features infiltration basins, native meadows and vegetated native plant swales that result in capturing nearly 100% of the site’s storm water.  We were also incredibly impressed with not only the building’s wonderful functional design but with the sheer beauty of the facility itself; it is literally breath-taking.


Notes from the 2014 Land Ethics Award Jury:

We were especially impressed with the functionality of design of the facility and how artfully it blended into the Upper Bucks County side.  The grass roots funding also played a significant factor in our decision.  The choice of native plants in the design was also well thought out and helped create the low maintenance, environmentally sustainable landscape that was one of the main project goals.


Notes from the 2014 Land Ethics Award Jury:

One of many things we admire about the Stewardship Department is the synergy developed by its link with other organizations, especially large corporations that have the assets to make things happen.  Their link to the NJ Corporate Stewardship Council (CSC), an organization of 18 NH companies promoting a common goal of environmental sustainability and responsibility, has been incredibly productive and resulted in major habitat restoration projects throughout the state.  The effects of their work is far reaching and long lasting.


2013 Land Ethics Award Recipients

The official habitat sign in Haycock Township

Congratulations to Haycock Community Wildlife Habitat:

Notes from the 2013 Land Ethics Award Jury:

We were impressed with this project’s focus on protecting wildlife for which there is far too little public awareness and funding. The inclusion of site work to control invasive plants adds real habitat modifications to foster their goals. This project is especially deserving of recognition because of the difficulty of accomplishing environmentally innovative projects in the context of municipal government. The project is also worthy due to the high caliber of scientific support and the extensive use of social media for public education.


Julie Fagan (HCWH) and Miles Arnott (BHWP)

Our three recipients accepted their 2013 Land Ethics Awards at the Preserve's annual Land Ethics Symposium. Recipients were represented by: Dr. Julie Fagan (Haycock Community Wildlife Habitat), Thom Almendinger (Duke Farms Foundation), Peter Johnson (ThinkGreen LLC) and Seth Budick (University City District).

Our award recipients were selected by our 2013 Land Ethics Award jury, a group of experts who reviewed each award submission. The jury consisted of: Don Borden (Delaware Valley College; Quercus Studio), James Bray (Lower Makefield Township Environmental Council) and Leslie Sauer (author of The Once and Future Forest and land conservation advocate).

Duke Farms' Skeet Shoot Field in 2012

Congratulations to Duke Farms Foundation

Notes from the 2013 Land Ethics Award Jury:

Duke Farms has become a premier institution for sustainability in the region by its dramatic transformation from a farm and garden into a naturalized public park. We urge every reader to visit this striking demonstration of sustainability. We also recognize and commend the extraordinary financial commitment made to this effort.


Design for 42nd St & Woodland Ave in Philly

Congratulations to ThinkGreen LLC and University City District's Woodland Green Pedestrian Plaza

Notes from the 2013 Land Ethics Award Jury:

This project achieved a total site transformation, bringing nature and a garden into the harshest of urban environments. This is an excellent example of re-greening to re-inhabit our cities. We appreciated the expansion of the original goals including stormwater management and the introduction of a tiny woodland habitat on Woodland Avenue. In addition the project appears to have accomplished a lot for a modest budget and overcame severe site restrictions. Long-term maintenance is included which is important to the project’s long term success.


2013 Nominations of Excellence

Green roof at the Taylor Residence

Margot Taylor - SITES Pilot Project at Taylor Residence

Notes from the 2013 Land Ethics Award Jury:

Hopefully this beautiful example of ‘green’ will inspire others to follow suit. The demonstration value of this project will have a wide impact due to its connection to the developing Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) program. Hopefully this landscape will be monitored over time in this program. For this project in particular it would have been helpful to have more knowledge of the before conditions and what kind of grading and other site modifications were undertaken.”


Nancy Beaubaire out enjoying nature

Nancy Beaubaire

Notes from the 2013 Land Ethics Award Jury:

A sustainable future is definitely dependent upon individuals such as Nancy who work unflaggingly in everything they do to demonstrate plant stewardship. Both as a professional and a dedicated volunteer, Nancy has been an important bridge between traditional horticulture and the use and protection of native plants. As the application noted, Nancy is an inspiration to us all.


Floodplain creation in Trenton, NJ

Stream Daylighting and Floodplain Creation - City of Trenton

(with Princeton Hydro and Brownfield Redevelopment Solutions)

Notes from the 2013 Land Ethics Award Jury:

This project epitomizes the state of the art in urban stream restoration, including the community networking, grant finding, and construction oversight that make such a project possible. Its presence in the City of Trenton only adds to its importance and educational value. We are especially impressed by the implementation of monitoring for this project, including the use of the Plant Stewardship Index.


2012 Land Ethics Award Recipients

Robert Adams (WVWA) and Molly Morrison (NLT)

Congratulations to our two recipients: Robert Adams and Natural Lands Trust’s Willisbrook Preserve Seed Project!

Robert Adams, Director of Stewardship at the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association, and Molly Morrison, President of Natural Lands Trust, accepted the 2012 Land Ethics Awards at the Preserve's annual Land Ethics Symposium.

Mr. Adams teaching proper planting technique

Robert Adams - Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association

Notes from the 2012 Land Ethics Award Jury:
The Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association has been a leader in land ethics for decades. Its success is in part due to the caliber of its staff, exemplified by the work of Robert Adams. For thirteen years, Robert has initiated ever larger and more comprehensive projects restoring wetlands on old ballfields, orphan dam sites and stormwater basins to help retrofit a watershed. This is what this award is all about.

Collecting seed at Willisbrook Barrens

Willisbrook Preserve Seed Project - Natural Lands Trust

Notes from the 2012 Land Ethics Award Jury:
This project represents something very rare and relevant today - applied restoration science. Natural Lands Trust identified a real regional need for local seed and developed an innovative program to address it. This effort is breaking new ground and will clearly be influential in our area. Even the members of the jury wanted to get more information for applying what is being learned in this effort. It is gratifying to see a mature organization take on this kind of project that reflects their special skills and experience.

2012 Nominations of Excellence

Installing wetland plants at Concourse Lake

Philadelphia Committee of the Garden Club of America - Concourse Lake Revitalization Project

Notes from the 2012 Land Ethics Award Jury:
This project shows just how far we have come in sustainable landscaping. In a city that is at the forefront of urban stormwater management, this project illustrates the beauty of integrating water management and habitat creation in the context of a beautiful public garden. We appreciated the program of site management, interpretation and education. The jury was also impressed with the many cooperating partners and volunteer efforts.

Mr. Frazier with G.O.A.L. clean-up efforts

Dale Frazier - Founder of the Greenbelt Overhaul Alliance of Levittown (G.O.A.L.)

Notes from the 2012 Land Ethics Award Jury:
Behind every successful group there is an individual who made it happen at the outset, often with singular dedication and inspiring a host of others. This project has a sharp focus on maintaining the many channels and streams in the Township and has brought together a very diverse array of people and organizations with a very busy calendar of work. Kudos!

Finished plantings at entry to Briar Bush

Site Entry Renovation - Briar Bush Nature Center with ThinkGreen, LLC

Notes from the 2012 Land Ethics Award Jury:
The best designs draw their inspiration from the site and work closely to reveal it. This project appears to have done just that and the result is both beautiful and functional and exemplifies sustainable landscape design. The butterfly house fits in especially well with the site. The jury would have appreciated a few photos of or information about the site conditions beforehand.

Wetland plants thrive at Quakertown Preserve

Quakertown Preserve Riparian Wetland Restoration - Hunterdon Land Trust with Princeton Hydro, LLC 

Notes from the 2012 Land Ethics Award Jury:
Princeton Hydro has been a leader in local dam removal, setting a standard that emphasizes native habitat restoration. This exemplary project with the Hunterdon Land Trust could be the poster child for this kind of effort. The submission was notably concise and well-illustrated as well. The jury was curious about the educational program and what maintenance is proposed going forward.

2011 Land Ethics Award Recipients

Joe Mihok with the 2011 Land Ethics Award

Congratulations to the Bucks County Chapter of Trout Unlimited (BCTU) and Buckingham Township!

Notes from the 2011 Land Ethics Award Jury:
The Lindquist Farm and Watson Creek project demonstrates what makes Trout Unlimited so special and deserving of this award. This almost 100% volunteer effort involved many different people in its community. The scale is large, 1500 feet of stream bank, and the site was highly disturbed, yet it was very cost-effective. The approach looked at the watershed as well as the community to accomplish tasks ranging from dam removal and bank stabilization to establishing native plants and fish. Hopefully Buckingham Township can continue to work with its partners to maintain this valuable resource and educational landscape overtime.

2011 Nominations of Excellence

Wall After Construction and Plantings

David Hughes - Weatherwood Design

Notes from the 2011 Land Ethics Award Jury:
There are many historic resources in our communities located on or near floodplains that might be unbuildable today and that are threatened by out of control flooding getting worse with every new development. The usual response is ever more armoring and fighting the process. This project on the other hand chose the soft path, with green solutions to very ungreen problems. Not surprisingly, it is also beautiful. If every homeowner followed this example, our historic and natural legacies would be in the hands of good stewards.

Meander #1 Looking Upstream

North Jersey RC&D - Walnut Brook Riparian Restoration

Notes from the 2011 Land Ethics Award Jury:
North Jersey Resource Conservation & Development managed this complex and multi-partnered project project which is a model for future efforts of this kind. This project is well documented which is vital to its role as a demonstration area. This information can be used to evaluate the project's success over time if it is adequately monitored. We also look forward to seeing how this collaboration will manage this restored site over time. PSI has been used in both the assessment and design phases of this project and can be the basis for future monitoring.

Bird Detective Kit Contents

Steven Saffier - Audubon at Home

Notes from the 2011 Land Ethics Award Jury:
Steven Saffier's work demonstrates just how many different ways a determined and creative individual can find to involve people in native plants and the landscapes that are their home. These project require the ability to assess the community's assets and to bring people together, each with a a vital role, and then getting these disparate components to work together productively. This is very difficult to do and takes dogged commitment and the ability to see real connections. The result is a community resource with regional significance that serves to educate those living in a landscape about the other living things that share their world.