|From left: Drs. Laura Marasco, Ernie Bond and Patricia Dean. [View Photo Gallery]|
SALISBURY, MD---The White House has honored three Salisbury University education professors with the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award.
The Newton Marasco Foundation, a Virginia-based non-profit environmental charity, nominated Drs. Ernie Bond, Patricia Dean and Laura Marasco for dedicating over 500 hours to its Green Earth Book Awards. Established in 2005, the award is the nation’s first to laud environmental stewardship in children’s and young adult literature.
“The Newton Marasco Foundation could not operate this program had it not been for the vision of these three professors,” said Amy Marasco-Newton, foundation president. “They are the brains and the inspiration behind the concept, which was developed here at Salisbury University. They added integrity to the book review process and their commitment to expanding the award is unmatched.”
Marasco-Newton read from the official citation, signed by President Barack Obama: “Thank you for helping to address the most pressing needs in your community and our country. In my Inaugural Address, I stated that we need a new era of responsibility—a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world. ... Your volunteer service demonstrated the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise.”
Moved by the honor, the three faculty said it showed more about the importance that the University, the Newton Marasco Foundation and the greater community place on active service.
“The Green Earth Book Awards combine my love of literature and story with a desire for a world in which my children can grow strong and healthy,” said Bond of SU’s Teacher Education Department. “Whatever our culture, politics or religion, we have a stake in sustaining the wonders of the natural world. The books being recognized inspire kids to explore the concept of environmental stewardship, and the award actually encourages publishers and authors to create a wide variety of these storylines.”
Dean, also of SU’s Teacher Education Department, has always been passionate about children’s literature. She said: “We have all worked so hard together to expand the Children’s and Young Adult Literature Festival and the Green Earth Book Award. I never really looked at it as service, just an important endeavor to celebrate literature and share my enthusiasm with our SU education majors, teachers and the community. It has just become part of what I do, who I am. I am an advocate for environmental stewardship and the award combines that with literature—a win-win project! This is the most prestigious award I have ever received, and one that I will treasure for the rest of my life.”
Marasco, of SU’s Education Specialties Department, also felt honored by the award from President Obama. She said: “I teach social studies and so I’ve always tried to model for my students what citizenship should mean and explore how they can foster it in their own classrooms. So the real joy was having so many of them, from the past and present, in the audience to witness this. Our hard work is validated by seeing them enjoy and participate in the Literature Festival and Green Earth Book Awards, and encourage a love for reading among their children and students. Through their books, the award-winning authors and illustrators share the importance of appreciating the environment and also deepen our understanding of our civic responsibility to care for the earth.”
For more information about the Newton Marasco Foundation, visit www.newtonmarascofoundation.org.