Richard Fischer Environmental Conservation Award

This award is named in honor of the late Richard B. Fischer, who, throughout his decades of residence in the Town of Ithaca, undertook by teaching and example to improve the quality of the natural environment within the Town, Tompkins County, and the State of New York.

As an educator,  Dr. Fischer taught generations of Cornell University students the precepts and practice of environmental conservation through courses such as Environmental Writing and Field Natural History.  As a writer of hundreds of scientific and popular articles, he informed and engaged the interest of his peers in the field of conservation, and members of the general public of all ages, in a wide range of conservation-related topics.  As a naturalist, Dr. Fischer undertook such projects as the provision and monitoring of scores of Eastern bluebird nesting boxes in appropriate habitat throughout the Town, in order to encourage re-establishment of a viable population of the beautiful State Bird of New York for the enjoyment of generations of Town residents.  As a public citizen, he led the successful campaign to enact State legislation which mandates beverage container deposit returns, thereby reducing litter in the environment throughout the State.

In recognition of Dr. Fischer’s untiring and effective lifelong efforts to promote environmental awareness and action, at both the personal and the societal levels, the Richard B. Fischer Annual Environmental Conservation Recognition Award has been established, to be given to recipients demonstrating Dr. Fischer’s exemplary dedication to environmental conservation.

The 2019 recognition award winners are: Cayuga Bird Club     
Browse all Fischer award winners HERE

Nominee Eligibility

Nominees for the annual award may be individuals or groups, including but not limited to professional, governmental, and commercial entities.  It is desirable, but not necessary, that nominees reside in or be based in the Town of Ithaca.  Nominees shall, within the year or longer period preceding the year of their nomination, have completed, or made substantial progress toward completion of, a project or other activity contributing to the improvement of the Town’s natural environment.

Project/Activity Eligibility

Any action which has or will have beneficial effect on the Town’s natural environment will qualify a nominee for consideration for this award.  Actions may be physical improvements, or other activities such as, but not limited to, enhancing environmental awareness, environmental education, promotion of environmentally-sensitive practices, or effective enforcement of regulations benefiting the environment.

Nominator Eligibility

Any person or entity with knowledge of an eligible project or activity may make a nomination.

Nomination Requirements

Nominations may be made in writing, addressed to the Conservation Board, 215 N. Tioga Street, Town of Ithaca, Ithaca, NY, 14850. Electronic submission of nominations will also be welcome via email to Mike Smith.  Nominations may be submitted at any time during the calendar year for which they are to be considered, but not later than February 28th of the year following.  Nominations should identify and provide contact information for the nominee, as well as information describing the project or action which prompts the nomination.  Copies of any available supplemental information -- news articles, photos, project specifications, publications, school reports, etc. -- will be helpful to the Board.  Nominators may wish to review the criteria for selecting awardees (see below) in preparing nominations. Nominators should also provide their contact information, in case the Board needs to reach them.  Nomination materials will be returned on request, after the Board has made the award determination.  Nominators will be informed of the result of the Conservation Board’s consideration of their nomination.

The Award

The Award will consist of an appropriately-worded framed certificate, or other suitable means of recognition, at the discretion of the Conservation Board.  More than one award may be given in any year.  Presentation will be made at a time and place agreed to by the awardee.


Awardee Selection Process

Each February, the Conservation Board will review all nominations received in the preceding calendar year.  In selecting awardees, the Board will consider the following criteria:

Nature/type of project or action. Does it involve physical change to the property? Or other action such as public information, education, or research?

Scope, locus, and orientation of project/action. What size physical area and/or audience does it directly affect?  What is its ultimate/intended potential scope? If a physical area affected lies partially outside the Town boundaries, is a significant portion of the affected area within the Town?  If it does not involve change to property, are its initial aims to provide Town-wide benefits, or focused more specifically?

Cost-effectiveness. Does it achieve much for little expense?

Applicability. Are the action's effects easily reproduced, or do they lend themselves to widespread use? Are they likely to encourage other actions to benefit the Town environment?

Visibility/public awareness. If project involves physical change to property, how obvious and visible is it?  If a non-physical action, how has the general public been made aware of it?

Impact on the Town of Ithaca. Does the project/action enhance the Town of Ithaca's public image? Does it present potential for Town government to take steps to benefit the environment?

Type of positive benefit. These might include preservation of a valuable resource, or restoration/enlargement of one; removal/reduction of negative conditions; creation of habitat to benefit rare/threatened/endangered species; creation of a visual enhancement that will benefit an area or the Town as a whole; written and/or graphic material that will educate and inspire Town residents.

Negative effects. Are there offsetting negative outcomes? Could/should these have been foreseen and possibly avoided or reduced? Do they outweigh the benefits?


The Conservation Board will use its best judgment to determine which, if any, nominees meet the criteria, and to what extent, and whether any merit the Award.  At its regular March meeting, the Board will formally act on its determinations.  Award certificates will be presented as soon thereafter as practicable and agreeable to awardees.