NOAA 2003-R246
Contact: Greg Hernandez
NOAA News Releases 2003
NOAA Home Page
NOAA Public Affairs


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected Dr. Carl Ojala of Eastern Michigan University as one of this year’s NOAA Environmental Hero Award recipients. The award will be presented at 9:30 a.m. April 12 by Meteorologist in Charge Dick Wagenmaker of the Detroit NOAA National Weather Service office during a ceremony at Eastern Michigan University’s Strong Hall.

Presented in conjunction with Earth Day celebrations, the award honors NOAA volunteers for their "tireless efforts to preserve and protect our nation's environment." Each Spring since 1994, Dr. Ojala has annually trained roughly 400 SKYWARN Spotters on behalf of the NOAA Weather Service, and has maintained the agency’s Cooperative Weather Station in Ypsilanti since 1986.

“NOAA and the nation are fortunate to have such dedicated people volunteer so much of their time,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “They set a perfect example for others to follow in their communities. America needs more environmental heroes like them.”

Established in 1995 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Earth Day, the Environmental Hero award is presented to individuals and organizations that volunteer their time and energy to help NOAA carry out its mission. Previous recipients include oceanographers Jean-Michel Cousteau and Sylvia Earle, and actor Ted Danson, head of the American Oceans Campaign.

“On behalf of the 12,500 men and women working for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, I am pleased to present you with this 2003 Environmental Hero Award,” Lautenbacher wrote in a letter to the recipients. “Your dedicated efforts and outstanding accomplishments greatly benefit the environment and make our nation a better place for all Americans."

There are a total of 36 winners — 35 individuals and one organization. Five awards are being presented posthumously. Recipients of the 2003 NOAA Environmental Heroes Award are:

Recipient and Location

  • Phil Ruhle — N. Kingston, R.I.
  • William A. McLellan — Wilmington, N.C.
  • Robert Macedo — New Bedford, Mass.
  • Loretta Lawrence — Islamorada, Fla.
  • Patrick Repman — Midland, Texas
  • Marvin O. Hill — Beverly, W.V.
  • John Pulasky — Billings, Mont.
  • H. Don McFarland — San Antonio, Texas
  • Carl Ojala — Ypsilanti, Mich.
  • Francis H. Smith — Falmouth, Mass.
  • Morgan Angus and Tara Whittle — Lothian, Md.
  • Clyde Brown — Moss Point, Miss.
  • Capt. Krzysztof Romowicz, Capt. Adam Kedziora, Capt. Darek Grzybek, Capt. Marek Czapiewski, Mieczyslaw Miakinko, Robert Zuk, Januz Maslanka, Piotr Kaminski, Wlodzimierz Jarzynski, Andrzej Kalicki, Daniel Skrzypek, Konrad Socko, Marianna Pastuszak — Gdynia, Poland
  • Cathy P. McNeil — Golden, Colo.
  • Terry Onslow — Girdwood, Alaska
  • Ismael Figueroa — Miaramar, Puerto Rico
  • Thomas F. Kazo — Sunrise, Fla.
  • Milton C. Shedd (posthumous) — Irvine, Calif.
  • Jackie Ciano, Michael Newcomer, Emily Argo, Tom Hinds (posthumous) — Fernandino Beach and Sarasota, Fla.
  • Alabama Emergency Response Team (ALERT) — Calera, Ala.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

On the Web:


Department of Commerce: